Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Time Flu By

Yes, cough hack sniff headache, I do mean Flu.  It has been a busy couple of weeks and I was expecting to do a lot more, but the Universe had different plans for me.   I came home from my last adventure sicker than the proverbial dog, and it was several days before I was well enough to get up and go, much less o prepare a little food and get up for liquids.  I was just knocked flat.   As proof to you that I was really sick, I missed one of our Dominoes Competitions, a high point of my winter season.  And being sick when there were only 2 more Dominoes Sundays in the season, staying home for one of them, was heartbreaking.
But what a great week I had before I got sick!  I was fortunate enough to be included in the Air Force/Coast Guard Inland Search And Rescue Planning Course, a math-based course that teaches planning theory for cases involving lost aircraft or persons.  The logo on the patch and pin, which can only be worn by people who have earned this credential, portrays the symbolic albatross (good fortune) rescuing a symbolic dolphin (mariner).  Although I have been involved in search and rescue for a few years now, and have even acted as a planner's assistant in a few searches, much in this class was new to me.   Things like IFR/VFR aviation charts, and working in degrees-minutes-seconds and nautical miles instead of UTMs and kilometers.   I know, right?!  Exciting.   The 5-day class involved a lot of study and practice and then ended in a lengthy table-top exercise where teams conducted a mock search plan for a missing aircraft and two people.  Each team successfully recovered all of their targets and we were each awarded the national certification.   It was a lot of work and a lot of fun and I am hoping it will lead to our being able to help a lot more families.  I can't imagine the pain of having someone you love go missing.

Within 24 hours of feeling well again, we got word of a couple of missing people in our area of the state and started the inevitable frustrating process of trying to get local law enforcement to allow our well trained and free resource to respond.   No luck in the first case but thank goodness he was found -- not for several days during which the family was frantic, but at least he was found. 

The second person is still missing although we were finally able to offer some help on Day 5 and I was able to test-drive my new Planner credentials.   Even though we did not have the result we all hoped for, the family had the benefit of our support and of knowing that everything that could reasonably be done has been, at least unless new leads develop.  It is a terrible thing -- and far more common than most people realize -- when families have to go through this kind of suffering on their own without any trained assistance or understanding of what can be done.  Law enforcement generally does its best but is not trained or sufficiently staffed to do the amount of work that is needed.   Fortunately in this case, with the help of more than 100 civilian volunteers acting under our trained Command Staff and Field Team Leaders, we were able to search a very large area,  limiting the places their loved one is most likely to be, and the family was comforted by a wonderful display of community support.   And our search and rescue group made real progress with at least one local law enforcement community, which was surprised to learn that we are exactly as advertised -- trained to national standards, background-checked, insured, working under the authority of a county sheriff, and free.

I also conducted a wedding, in the middle of the search (as I watched one of our search teams walking by!), and have another one planned for the day before Easter.    After a gathering with my family, Easter will also mark the last Dominoes Day, so it will be another busy weekend!

But now I am snowed in with a friend in the middle of another Winter Storm -- about 7 inches has fallen and the ice is forming on top of that.   I made a pot of soup and am happy happy happy to be snug and warm for the next several hours!

But you should see my house and the piles of unwashed laundry -- what a mess!   Maybe next week will be calm enough to do some Housework Damage Control.  :)