Monday, April 28, 2014

Oso Strong

It’s been over a month since the mudslide in the town of Oso, Washington, took the lives of 43 people. My heart continues to go out to the many families, friends, and nearby communities. While I do not live in the immediate area, I live close enough to hear the rescue helicopters fly to their destination. Every morning, I send a prayer along with them to be safe. The people of Snohomish County are fortunate to have a search and rescue unit as finely tuned as we have. I happen to know Chief Pilot, Bill Quistorf and his lovely wife Renee. Bill and his crew arrived within an hour of this catastrophe. Along with many others, they have worked tirelessly, day in and day out, over the last month.

Recently, I became aware there have been federal government cuts in funding for the Snohomish County Volunteer Helicopter Rescue Team (HRT). You can read a more personal account at Renee’s blog. This team, of mostly volunteers, conducts over 80 missions a year throughout Washington State. You may remember the bridge collapse on I-5 last year. They were there. HRT operates under federal public aircraft rules and therefore cannot charge for services. After the federal cuts, Snohomish County was able to carry them over into 2014. It would be a shame to lose such a valuable resource of specialized, dedicated individuals.

I invite you to read more about HRT, and if you are able, please donate. Who knows, you may be in need of a rescue someday. And, the next time you hear a helicopter flying high in the sky, send a quick prayer their way.

Please note: HRT is a non-profit organization that serves as a rescue resource for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. It is registered as a public charity. The team consists of 26 volunteers and 5 deputies. They are pilots, crew chiefs, rescue technicians, flight medics and ground support personnel. HRT is raising funds for operations only. No funds will go towards personnel costs or overhead.

Photo taken by Greg Racer