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State defense force volunteers for searches

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POSTED: August 23, 2010 1:59 p.m.
A missing persons call on a police radio demands prompt action often involving dozens of volunteers combing dense and sometimes dangerous areas. The enormous time and stress accompanying the search is both emotionally and physically draining to the searcher and hugely manpower intensive, and many Georgia law enforcement agencies lack the time, personnel or resources to accomplish an intensive search.
Law enforcement is now finding a willing and able partner in search and rescue missions through the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) an all-volunteer arm of the Georgia Department of Defense quickly gaining a statewide reputation for its support of search and rescue operations.
The Georgia State Defense Force’s primary mission is support to the Georgia Army and Air Guard, but many of its members – through civilian or military training – qualify in the skills necessary for missing persons search and rescue. GSDF members assisted law enforcement in more than a dozen searches for missing persons in the past two and a half years.
The institutional skills of search and rescue (SAR) are becoming mandated for all 800 members of the GSDF. Under the direction of Brig. Gen. Jerry Bradford, State Defense Force commander, the number of SDF personnel qualified in search and rescue (SAR) skills are increasing together with the number of qualified SAR teams available to local authorities.
GSDF members assisted the second search for Iraq war veteran Jason Roark by Morgan County authorities in 2008. GSDF personnel were not only brought in for the multi-day search effort, they actually organized the operation which involved several dozen GSDF members and many citizens.
“Gen. Bradford plans to change the mindset of civilian agencies to not just calling (the GSDF) for support, but to call us first when search and rescue is initiated,” said SDF Maj. Sam Pena, who leads Atlanta’s 911th Support Command.
Georgia’s SDF is an all volunteer force and is looking for additional members. Anyone interested can view essential GSDF information at http://www.gasdf.com/GASDF_recruiting.htm.
 

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