On March 21, Sheriff Donny Youngblood, Lt. Dana Albro, Sgt. Royce Haislip, Commander Tyson Davis, and Retired Sheriff Carl Sparks, to name a few, were on hand to give thanks to the county's Search and Rescue members.
Kern County has 10 teams of people who take time out of their own lives to search so others may live and more: Tehachapi Mountain Search and Rescue Group, the China Lake Mountain Rescue Group, the Desert Search and Rescue Group, the Indian Wells Valley Search and Rescue Group, the Kern Valley Search and Rescue Group, Search and Rescue Divers, the Southern Kern Search and Rescue Group, the Kern Sheriff's Mounted Search & Rescue, Bakersfield K-9 Unit.
After a few introductions Sheriff Youngblood began with a gracious thank you to an audience of approximately 225 people consisting of search and rescue members and their families.
"I want to thank you," Sheriff Youngblood said. "At a time when budgets are very tight and we are getting some deputies from other counties who now want to get paid for the time it takes to put on the uniform and take it off ... well, I don't think you, all of you, get the recognition you deserve. We love you and appreciate you. And we respect you. All of you. You are the backbone of this operation."
"What you do for us every day, and the support of your families is important," Commander Davis added.
Across the county there were 88 call-outs in 2014, Davis said.
"The types of call-outs consisted of assisting Fire Department members to get across the river so they can do their jobs, evidence searches, assisting other counties with searches, looking for and locating lost children, locating bodies, locating missing or downed airplanes," he said. "There was also a suicidal subject at powerhouse number three. The subject disrobed and the Search and Rescue unit made it safe for the deputies, by harnessing them up, so that the deputies would not fall into the river and drowned. The Search and Rescue unit made it so the officers stayed safe while helping this fella," Davis said.
Sheriff Youngblood and Commander Davis, with the assistance of Lt. Albro and Sgt. Haislip announced 37 milestones and presented many awards to those who could make it to the dinner for 2014 the Search and Rescue Service Awards. SAR members received recognition for being in a volunteer for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years.
Eighteen 5-year awards were handed out to volunteers including Glaen Hamilton, Roberta Ross, Hearth Barns and Roger Long from the Tehachapi Mountain Search and Rescue and Robert Salde, from the desert were awarded for their 5 years of commitment.
Five 10-year awards were handed out to volunteers including Richard Buckreis from the Desert Group and Douglass Wide from the Southern Kern Group.
Five 15-year awards were awarded to volunteers including James Leblanc and Carlos Gomez from the desert group.
Three 20-year awards were handed out. Two went to Tehachapi residents Robin Jackson and Patrice Kline of Tehachapi Mountain Search and Rescue.
Three 25-year awards were presented, one to Dory Kline of the TMSAR.
One 30 years of service award was presented to Dennis Stubblefield, of the Southern Kern Search and Rescue Group.
Retiring volunteers were honored for their many years of dedication; these were Raymond Ray for his 22 years and Bob Fisher for his 17 years of service.
Special recognition given to the SAR members who, on Feb. 22 of this year helped locate a missing 63-year-old man. The three day search ended up included the Off Highway Vehicle Team, Bakersfield Search and Rescue Team with their canine search teams and two horseback teams form the Mounted Search and Rescue.
It was announced that due to the training, commitment and perseverance in searching and rescuing members of the Kern County Sheriff's Office, as well as member from the search and rescue teams, made it so three people -- including a child and an elder, were saved.
"We couldn't do it without you," Youngblood said adding a big "Thank you again" for all of the selfless time, money and effort put in to the search and rescue units so others may live.