Southern Arizona Rescue Association looking for new volunteers

Volunteers with the Southern Arizona Rescue Association are often the first ones that get to hikers in need of help out on the trails. 

SARA is now looking for about 20 new volunteers.

Anjani Polite, the vice president of SARA, says you don't necessarily need search and rescue experience, but but volunteers typically have a love for hiking, the outdoors and helping people.

Volunteers also need to be very dedicated. Polite says you go through 116 hours of training so you can learn how to help stranded hikers and injured climbers

"We carry a lot of gear into the field with us. We have to carry a pack that has enough supplies to sustain us for 24 hours," Polite said.

Polite says volunteers need to be able to carry that weight and be familiar with the gear. You also have to know the trails in the area.

SARA works with the Pima County Sheriff's Department who will use volunteers when needed for rescue missions.

Bill Kelleman, the president of SARA, says the group assisted in more than 140 calls last year and 66 so far in 2017.

"I enjoy going outside and hiking and backpacking," Kelleman said. "So it gives us the opportunity to go out and see the trails and yet make a difference in somebody else's life, and that's kind of why we all do it."

The next orientation will be at 7 p.m. on July 18 at 5990 N. Sabino Canyon Road. Orientation is mandatory to begin the application process. 

In August there will be a hike that Polite says serves as the interview process.

Usually in the summer Kelleman says the group is busy with heat-related calls, but fortunately it has not been as busy. He says local agencies have worked to educate people and it seems people are hiking smart in the triple-digit temperatures. 

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