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Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue Honored for 50 Years of Service

Rotary Club of Montecito presents the Vocational Service/Public Safety Award to the all-volunteer unit

The Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team was recently honored by the Rotary Club of Montecito for its team members’ exceptional service and contributions to the community.

Members of this nonprofit all-volunteer mountain rescue unit under the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department have been serving the residents of Santa Barbara County since 1962. During its five decades, SBCSAR has performed countless search and rescue operations in the mountains above the unincorporated area of Montecito.

Cmdr. Samuel Gross of the Sheriff’s Department said he is “extremely proud of SBCSAR accomplishments and willingness to go above and beyond in their volunteer efforts for the community. All its members are outstanding individuals who exemplify dedication and commitment to the citizens of Montecito, and our community as a whole, on a truly selfless and giving basis.”

Gross also highlighted the services of the team to the Montecito community during the Tea Fire in November 2008. During that fire, team members organized and assisted the Sheriff’s Department in evacuating thousands of residents from the fast-moving fire and providing critical situational reports of the fire’s progress to command personnel from its teams out in the field. In addition, in the days after the initial fire, the team searched each burned home to make sure all occupants were accounted for.

SBCSAR is trained to use specialized equipment to handle a variety of emergencies, such as high-angle rock rescues, car-over-the-side accidents, downed aircraft, swift water rescues and other wilderness medical emergencies. The team is also highly proficient in search operations for overdue hikers, mountain bikers, missing children or lost hunters. As a member of the Mountain Rescue Association, the team also responds to support search and rescue efforts throughout California and the United States.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the sheriff and the Montecito Rotary Club for something we love doing for the community,” SBCSAR team president Ben Stefanski said.

The Rotary Club of Montecito presented the award during its meeting last Tuesday. The Vocational Service/Public Safety Award is presented to men and women serving the community who have exemplified outstanding professional achievement and high ethical standards in the performance of his or her duties.

— Drew Sugars is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.


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