Search and Rescue Foundation
UMASAR Wins Awards
At this year's annual Oregon State Sheriff's Association Awards ceremony, the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Unit was awarded the Search and Rescue Command Council Program of the Year Award. The ceremony was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The unit was recognized for "exceptional responses" during 2020. The nomination letter emphasized the wide variety of challenges faced by the unit this year: "In addition to the normal calls for lost individuals, the team responded to multiple mutual aid requests, four fire evacuation calls to service, assisted whenever needed with our COVID-19 pandemic logistic needs, and two flood responses, one of which received a federal disaster declaration and was described by Governor Kate Brown as one of the largest evacuations instate history." (See Flood 6-9 FEB 2020 for a description of that mission.)
Not only did the unit win an award, but UMASAR Volunteer Searchers Bob English and Bill Morris were also selected as the Command Council's Volunteers of the Year. During the February flood, Searchers English and Morris were tasked with reconning and extracting victims on the Umatilla River near Thorn Hollow. After helping several individuals and also assisting with the successful air extraction of four individuals trapped in their house, the pair found themselves trapped by rapidly rising waters. The flood video includes footage of them in their response vehicle being towed to safety by a county road grader.
The pair spent the night at a residence on high ground. The next morning they were extracted by Chinook helicopter and continued assisting trapped residents. Morris continued to work on recon and working at roadblocks. English went on to serve as Operations Chief for the entire rescue effort. Emergency Manager Tom Roberts wrote in their nominating letter "We are very fortunate to have them on our team, and enthusiastically support their nomination for this award."
New Members Sworn In
Undersheriff Littlefield swears in new members Shari Mueller and Paul Smith
On 11/05/2020 Undersheriff Jim Littlefield swore in Shari Mueller and Paul Smith as the newest members of the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Unit. Shari is a lifelong Umatilla County resident, residing in Stanfield where she works with her husband in the agricultural profession. Paul recently transferred to Pendleton and is employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. Both Shari and Paul have hit the ground running and have participated in recent field training exercises. We are excited to have them as part of the unit.
New Member Sworn In
Sheriff Terry Rowan swears in new member Grant Matlock
On 07/17/2020 Sheriff Rowan swore in Grant Matlock as the newest member of the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Unit. Grant resides in Pendleton with his family. Grant works for the state Department of Transportation overseeing contract preparation and specifications. Grant enjoys the outdoors and is especially interested in the unit's drone program. We welcome him to the UMASAR team!
Umatilla Electric COOP Buys New Drone for UMASAR
The Board of Directors of the Umatilla Electric Cooperative headquartered in Hermiston recently approved a $5000 donation to the UMASAR Foundation for use in purchasing a new drone.
As a result, the foundation purchased a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual specially configured by the vendor for public safety deployments. The dual in the name refers to the dual camera system on the aircraft. It contains a 4k video capable visible camera along with a lower resolution infrared camera. The control pilot is able to switch between the two video feeds or view a mix of the two. The IR camera should be useful in locating the warm bodies of lost or injured persons, especially when ambient temperatures are low.
The new aircraft has a longer flight time than the current UMASAR drones and also can fly in lower temperatures. In addition, the aircraft can be outfitted with a bright spotlight or a speaker. Using the speaker the control pilot can either make real time announcements or play pre-recorded messages.
Coop Board Director Johnny Otis presents a check to Sgt. Johnson, Undersheriff Littlefield, and UMASAR searchers Dani Smith and Jan Good.
The drone has a special integrated controller that can be rapidly deployed in emergencies. The UMASAR drone team is excited to add this new aircraft to its drone fleet. The aircraft has already been used in an actual mission. A UMASAR drone team responded to Richland, OR in Baker County in the search for a missing juvenile. (Unfortunately the body of the juvenile was subsequently located in Brownlee Reservoir.)
On July 9 Umatilla Electric COOP Board Director Johnny Otis presented Undersheriff Jim Littlefield, Sgt. Dwight Johnson, and UMASAR volunteers Dani Smith and Jan Good with a check to pay for the new drone. The UMASAR Unit and the Sheriff's Office wish to thank the Umatilla Electric COOP and their customers for this generous donation. The new drone will help us be more effective in keeping our county citizens and visitors safe.
New member Sworn In
Sheriff Terry Rowan swears in new member Daniel Gardner
On Thursday, 05/21/2020 Daniel Gardner was sworn in as the newest member of the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Unit. Daniel resides in the Hermiston area with his young family. He recently transferred to Umatilla County from Klamath Falls and works for the Army Corp of Engineers. He is also a member of our local Army Air National Guard unit. Daniel brings a solid outdoor skillset with him. We welcome him to the UMASAR team!