Search and rescue crews from across the northwest gathered in the Flathead for training and comradery.
They stay busy, especially during the summer time. The vast majority of these men and women are volunteers.
“These people are really here to help,” said leader of Flathead County Search and Rescue, Brian Heino.
Heino is an employee of the sheriff’s department, but says his 100 person strong team, just like the dozens of others that serve the region, are made up of volunteers.
“The United States is usually volunteer. It’s just the sheer dynamics of search and rescue. It takes a lot of personnel and the cost would be astronomical if it was paid. In this case, we have dedicated volunteers that are some of the best in the nation,” Heino said.
“If it was one of my family members lost, I would want somebody looking for them and I just feel this is my way of serving the community and assuring the family that there are people out here looking for their loved ones,” said North Valley Search and Rescue volunteer, Scott Cheff.
Cheff has been volunteering for over 30 years. He says he loves the work and he isn’t the only one.
“It is kind of reassuring just to see how supportive this area is for each other because there are a lot of people that are willing to just instantly stop what they’re doing and would do anything to help someone they don’t even know. That is pretty cool to see,” said North Valley Search and Rescue volunteer, Andrea Marron.
Almost all of the volunteers say it is not about getting monetary compensation.
“It’s the fulfillment. There is nothing better than going in and rescuing someone that actually needs help and getting the thank you, I mean that’s all we need for compensation,” said Flathead County Search and Rescue volunteer, Diane Phillips.
The crews also volunteer at special events and put in hours on end, to what they say, is to give back to the community.
“In the month of August I can tell you there was well over 1,000 hours of volunteer time, just from search and rescue. That includes hours from the fair and special events and rescue calls. These dedicated volunteers, we just can’t thank enough,” Heino said.
Flathead County Search and Rescue is funded by a mill levy, as well as donations.