Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Recovery in all it's forms

Search and Rescue is a tough life calling. The two most difficult areas of SAR are when a Search and Rescue mission turns into a Recovery mission, and just as bad, when we fail to find the person. The case of Bradley McMellon and Paul Slinkard is tragic on both counts.

The Burnet County Sheriff's Office recovered the body of 20-year-old Bradley McMellon on July 7 in the flood-swollen waters of Lake Travis. Paul Slinkard, also 20-years-old, is still missing.

Water rescues are especially difficult. Dive teams come in to search, and often, small boats manned by a driver, a paramedic, and a handler and a specially trained dogthat can locate the scent of human remains in the water. Sadly, the water recovery usually ends when a fisherman or swimmer discovers a floating body, or the body washes ashore.

It's been a whirlwind of a month, and while the families of the men try to pick up the pieces, it always surprises me that life goes on. The sun still comes up, the grocery stores still sell my favorite kind of bread, the big RWA National conference went as scheduled. The only thing that changed was the knowledge that two young men weren't around to see it.

So, while the mission is labeled a Recovery because we're trying to recover the bodies of the two missing men, at some point, it's supposed to be a recovery for team members, too. But, like some missing persons are never recovered, many searchers never completely recover either.

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Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing
My friend Pantera with Tahoe & Me

Tahoe and a new friend at the signing