In Marin / FYI
IF YOU GET lost on any of the hundreds of miles of trails that wend through Marin County — or Yosemite, Mount Whitney or the Trinity Alps — chances are the dedicated volunteers from the Marin County Sheriff’s Department Search and
Rescue Team will be called to come help look for you.
They aren’t paid for the work: they leave families, jobs
and classes, grabbing their 24-hour backpacks and gear to
travel all around the county and state on a moment’s notice
to find the lost, injured and missing. Marin’s search and
rescue volunteers are high schoolers, stay-at-home moms,
college students, financial planners, retired executives,
paramedics, firefighters, nurses and retirees. And they’re
considered one of the best teams in the state.
Ten years ago, Rich Shelton of Tiburon had retired as
a managing director of commodities trading at Morgan
Stanley and was looking for volunteer opportunities that
involved the outdoors. He looked into docent programs
and posts in parks like Point Reyes and Angel Island before
joining Marin County Search and Rescue in 2011. Now a
search manager and the unit’s personnel manager, Shelton
spends hundreds of hours a year helping lead and manage
searches both in Marin and around California. “The most
surprising thing is that a volunteer organization is the first
line of defense when someone goes missing,” he says.
Last year the unit, which has about 100 members, participated in 42 searches, which are typically efforts to help
anyone from a despondent person or dementia patient to a
missing hiker. Marin’s team also joined search and recovery missions in the Sonoma and Napa fires of 2017; the
Camp Fire in Butte County; on Mount Shasta and Mount
Whitney; and around Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National
Park. About 30 members are young people, who are
allowed to join as early as high school freshman year.
All members undergo a 65-hour training program that
teaches search strategies, compass and map reading, and
Top: Members search
a hillside near Stinson
Beach for a missing
Rich Shelton (left) and
Scott McDaniel setting
Marin’s search and rescue
volunteers answer the call.
BY MOLLY WILLIAMS