Phone campaign seeks money for search and rescue services
By GREG WELTER - Staff Writer
Article Launched: 02/05/2008 12:12:04 AM PST

A local company has been hired to solicit donations by telephone on behalf of the Butte County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Unit.

Many local residents can expect to get a call by May 2, said Capt. Mike Larish.

He said it's important for citizens to know that the solicitations are legitimate, and said private donations are a major funding source for the all-volunteer unit, which uses the money to buy equipment.

Larish said the phone solicitations are a straightforward appeal for money, and don't offer a premium in return for a contribution.

He said those who donate up to a certain amount will be mailed a bumper sticker which states they support the unit.

Search and rescue is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, and donations are tax deductible, Larish said.

Contributions have helped purchase and maintain two rescue vehicles, a command vehicle, four snowmobiles, three off-road motorcycles, an off-road utility ATV, a tracked snow vehicle, a jet boat, two personal watercraft and two inflatable boats. In addition, the unit uses and maintains a large technical/over-the-edge rescue and swift water rescue equipment cache along with radio communications, pagers and two-way radios.
"The officers of search and rescue, who are all volunteers, are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days per year and respond to many types of incidents including searches for lost or missing people, technical/over-the-edge rescues, swift water and dive rescues, mountain and remote area rescues and more," Larish said.

Larish said the rescue unit is one of the busiest in the state. It recently captured national headlines when it led the search and rescue of the Dominguez family, lost for three days in the snow above Inskip.

Realizing the increased suspicion of phone solicitors, search and rescue officials are inviting citizens with questions about the unit, or the solicitation, to call their headquarters office at 895-6577.
Larish said those who leave a message at that number will get a return call from a search and rescue official.