Erika Youman Takes On Search and Rescue

Erika Youman, along with her father, joined a group of trained search and rescuers in DuPont State Forest. They participated in the mock search over the course of two days.

The International Search and Rescue Advisory Group is a collection of adults across the world trained in finding and saving people in distress or imminent danger. The branch for the United States, known as the National Advisory for Search and Rescue (NASAR), consists of members throughout the country willing to take on search and rescue missions when need be.

Erika Youman, Leesville senior, tagged along with her father on his annual search and rescue training mission on November 10-11. While this was yearly routine for her father, it was Youman’s very first mission.

Youman said, “[My dad] asked if I’d be interested in coming along since you don’t technically have to be trained to do [a training mission], you just have to be with someone that does search and rescue. I think I was one of two people there who wasn’t actually search and rescue.”

Training missions are operated as if it was a real life search scenario. Two people hide in the forest over the weekend while the trained searchers are tasked with finding them. Each day, they broke off into groups of four and searched a specific area for the fake victims. State troopers and police were also out in the wilderness with the searchers.

“It’s just walking in the woods for hours. So sometimes, [searching] can go all night long. A hasty search would be keeping about fifty feet off the trial and keeping up a pretty high [walking] pace,” said Youman.

Rather than looking for the people themselves, Youman explained it was more helpful to look for clues that a person had been in the area in order to point them in the right direction. “If you have knowledge that the victim likes apples and you find an apple core on the trail, that would be something to call in. So that’s the kind of stuff you’re looking for mostly.”

After a weekend of searching for the pretend victims, a group found the two people. Although Youman was disappointed that she was not in the group that found them, she still learned a great deal and had fun spending time with her dad.

Youman said, “I definitely, liked that I can do something that I love while helping people. I like being out there; I like hiking, backpacking, camping, being out in the wilderness, and I like the idea that I can do that and still be volunteering my time to help others. That’s really cool to me.”

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