Sea, Air and Land Capabilities Improvement Initiative

Sea, Air and Land Capabilities Improvement Initiative

Grant Year: 2016 | Focus Area: Health & Wellness | Grant Amount: $108,200 | Grant Status: Completed

Sea, Air and Land Capabilities Improvement Initiative

Escambia Search and Rescue, Inc.

The mission of the Escambia Search and Rescue, Inc. (ESAR), while remaining a 100% volunteer, self-sustaining organization, is to respond at any time of day or night and in any weather, to those in need. ESAR was chartered by local citizens in 1961, arising from a community need that was unanswered by local law enforcement and emergency services. They are the oldest search and rescue group in Florida, and the second oldest in the country. ESAR stands ready to respond to search and rescue requests 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The organization primarily serves over 450,000 residents of Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, but makes every effort to respond to all aid requests, regardless of location. In the last three years ESAR has participated in 68 recorded missions, 31 of which involved marine operations. Additionally, ESAR staffs the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center during emergency activation and operates various programs including Hug-A-Tree (woods survival training), Project Lifesaver, Boy Scout mentoring, and training for FEMA, First Responders, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and K9 Search and Rescue.

Project Description

Funds would be used to purchase a 1999 22 foot Boston Whaler capable of operation in the Gulf, along with a trailer, two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) and associated equipment, five anti-exposure suits for ESAR boat crew personnel, 10 auto-inflatable personal flotation devices for crew members, 400 infant and youth sized personal flotation devices to be given away at various public events and 12 Project Lifesaver Response Systems. Through this project ESAR will dramatically increase their capabilities on sea, air and land. This initiative was developed over the course of many years by examining past missions and identifying needs that if met, would provide the greatest and most oft-used return on investment. New technologies and updated equipment identified in this project will enable ESAR to complete missions more rapidly and safely and thus with greater likelihood of success.

Community Impact

Scores of individuals go missing during routine activities each year and the circumstances of their disappearance dictate what tools are used to bring them home. The boat will be the central tool in Gulf-oriented marine operations, including deep sea search and dive missions as well as coastal search, rescue and recovery efforts. In addition to this vessel, the request for exposure suits as well as adult personal flotation devices, will increase the safety and effectiveness of sea operations. Public distribution of infant and child personal flotation will increase the availability of these devices and the awareness of the need to wear such devices in order to minimize the likelihood of tragedy. Integrating UAV’s into ESAR’s toolbox will dramatically increase the speed, safety and effectiveness of search operations in a host of conditions. Project Lifesaver bracelets and the associated kits allow ESAR to locate participating individuals exponentially more rapidly than those without. As Project Lifesaver International (PLI) notes on their website, “Recovery times for PLI clients average 30 minutes — 95% less time than standard operations.” By purchasing a dozen additional Project Lifesaver kits, and dispersing them throughout the area to trained volunteers, ESAR can ensure that regardless of where an individual goes missing, they are never far from this vital asset. The purchase of these assets will dramatically increase the capability of ESAR to bring lost individuals home to their loved ones. Since everyone has the potential to get lost and the services of ESAR are provided as needed and free of charge, every individual in the community has the potential to benefit from ESAR’s increased effectiveness as a result of this improvement in equipment and technology.