Anderson Co. CERT, MSaR volunteers explain training - FOX Carolina 21

Anderson Co. CERT, MSaR volunteers explain training

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CERT volunteers on a search scene (Source: Anderson County CERT). CERT volunteers on a search scene (Source: Anderson County CERT).

Rachel Richberg's first search happened in early June 2015, one-year-old Leonna Wright went missing overnight in Pendleton. 

"I remember my adrenaline pumping. I was actually heading out to an event in Williamston when we got the first page I turned around and headed out there. Just seeing everyone come together, my training did kick in," said Richberg.

Fast forward to today, Richberg is now in charge of Anderson County's Community Emergency Response Team and Mounted Search and Rescue Team.

"I love helping the community, my main thing is helping the community and I wanted to give back," said Richberg.

CERT and MSaR assist law enforcement when people go missing.

"When we have a couple of teams of 40 plus people, that's a huge asset to us," said David Baker, Director of Emergency Services for the Anderson County Sheriff's Office.

What people might not know is that the groups on foot and on hour are all trained volunteers, certified in CPR and First Aid. CERT and MSaR volunteers also undergo extensive training to learn how to conduct specialized searches and even spot and preserve evidence in cases of foul play.

"They're trained to identify that, recognize that, secure it for law enforcement to come on scene and take over an investigation, so they do a phenomenal job," said Baker.

MSaR trainer, Ila hanks said it takes a lot of dedication and prior experience riding.

"They have to do a qualification course that has about 32 obstacles on natural terrain, uphills and downhills and crossing over water streams," said Hanks.

All that training is done in their spare time, Richberg and Hanks don't get paid either, but Hanks said this is their calling to help bring closure for families no matter how a search ends up.

"The quicker you find those missing people whether they're injured, alive or dead, it's always better to get them as quick as possible to make everything better for those around them," said Hanks.

It could take months to train to become a volunteer with MSaR and about a week at the least for CERT. Background checks are run on all volunteers. If you're interested, you can contact the Anderson County Sheriff's Office Emergency Management Division. 

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