Over the past three years of #GivingTuesday partnership with Portage Health Foundation (PHF), Superior Search and Rescue, a nonprofit organization that serves Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties in missing person searches, has raised $23,699.96. The surrounding areas of these counties are rich in thick wood, dark trails and winding roads. It’s not uncommon for a lost person to need rescuing in the Copper Country. In the years the rescue team has been established, they have aided in more than 23 missing person cases, ranging in ages from 4 to 80 years old.
This all-volunteer organization has partnered with PHF since 2019 for #GivingTuesday. The funds received from #GivingTuesday has allowed the rescue team to acquire resources they never could have imagined. The past partnership with #GivingTuesday allowed the organization to expand on their small established drone program. A program first implemented in 2019 from a grant, allowed the organization to be the first in the U.P. to use drones as a method for search and rescue. After seeing how much a drone could impact a search, they used their #GivingTuesday donations for a more up-to-date drone program, complete with training. Before the drone program was implemented and expanded upon, Superior Search and Rescue would have to get air assets from downstate. A police helicopter could take anywhere from seven to nine hours to aid in the search, whereas a coast guard helicopter could take anywhere from two to three hours just to get to the serviced counties. A drone takes a very short amount of time, less than an hour, rescuers have a different perspective of the search area. The large time gap waiting for the air assets from downstate could greatly impact a search and the wellbeing of the individual needing rescue. The purchase of the drones from the 2021 #GivingTuesday partnership has allowed Superior Search and Rescue to have more success in finding missing people in the Copper Country.
Tragedy Leads to Advanced Trainings
In 2021, Superior Search and Rescue aided in a search taking place in Ontonagon county, after days of searching they had found a body. The first time reunification did not take place for the organization. Although heartbreaking for everyone involved, it sparked a conversation about how to better prepare the volunteers on the team. From this experience, the organization has many trainings throughout the year including; lifesaver training, identifying tracks training, “stop the bleed” training and many more. As well as making sure all their volunteers have the correct equipment to carry the search out properly. The standard search and rescue kit ranges from $1200 to $1400 where a GPS, reflective vests, headlamps, Winter Gear and Overhead Management equipment are provided. The volunteers number one goal is for reunification of the family, and these trainings and equipment paid for by#GivingTuesday donations make the chances of that happening a lot higher.
Superior Search and Rescue is not an organization you need everyday, but when you need it, you’ll be grateful it exists. To stay up to date on what the organization is doing and recent training they have completed, follow them on Facebook or Instagram, or sign up for their email newsletter by visiting superiorsar.org.
#GivingTuesday 2022 Donation
Superior Search and Rescue has been announced as a 2022 #GivingTuesday partner. Donations will open in early November, visit phfgive.org/givingtuesday to stay up to date when donations go live.