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  • Writer's pictureWolf

The H Word

One of the first things that struck me when I began spending time around the MARG team was the ban on the word “hero”. (Am I even allowed to type it out here? Oops.)

The team’s ethos is clear: we are all in this together, no one is a h***. No one. Although it would often be useful to have a cape and spidey senses.

spider man on rope

This has shaped so much of my search and rescue experience.

SAR ISN’T ABOUT US, IT IS ABOUT THE LOST PERSON. The second we forget that, the entire effort is diminished.

In a situation where each of the team members has put countless hours into training and increasing knowledge, it would be easy for egos to get in the way. Our team includes members from a host of professional and public service backgrounds, some of whom have been doing SAR for upwards of 30 years. It is a testament to the whole team that we remember to bring our experience but leave our egos at the “door”.

We are all expected to remember that our work requires team effort, and that we are each of us lesser than the whole. Without someone handing out radios, or putting gas in the generator, the team member doing the specialty technical rope system can’t be effective. Every part of the whole matters.

There are no h***es on our team. There are experts and specialists, but even those folks do grunt work as well.

The result of this organization-wide stance is clear.

Our members are available for questions, and oh-so-willing to share knowledge. Nobody guards their specialty. There are opportunities all the time to cross-train. I’m a dog handler, but can drive our vehicle, work in base, and am involved in scheduling and publicity as well. Show interest, and some team member will show you what they know, and offer you a chance to give feedback (or even take on some related job).

Two members look at a map and discuss options

A successful mission is a success for the whole team. Nobody talks about who has racked up the most finds. A find could not have happened without the support of the rest of us, and we all know that. We are all appreciated for our efforts, and thanked.

We’ve run across a few search and rescue folks who would like to be h***es. How do we spot these people? There are tells. They often make demands. They will go to the highest probability search area only, for instance. They may disregard their task assignment or orders from incident command and go off on their own, regardless of how this fits into the larger plan. They may seek out media attention, posing for pictures or discussing info directly with the press rather than engaging the press liaison. They may seek out family attention, trying to get an emotional response and thanks from those in crisis.

H***oes get in the way. Along with complicating planning and tasks, they are more likely to be injured by putting themselves in unpredictable and unsupported danger. They can easily become a secondary rescue requirement, rather than an asset in the search effort.

This behavior is NOT tolerated in MARG, and for that I am grateful.

The camaraderie I experience is exemplary. Each of us can grow to our fullest potential. The culture is positive, tolerant, and supportive.

There are no H***es, but rather many wonderful people willing to be teachers, mentors, tutors, and friends. Those who teach also learn…students can bring new perspective, and add to a teacher’s understanding through questioning.

To paraphrase: don’t walk ahead of me, just walk beside me, and we’ll rely on each other.

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