‘We learn from every aspect of this’: Hundreds participate in missing persons simulation

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Eight years in a row, Pender County Search and Rescue has sponsored a full scale search and rescue training exercise and this year participants traveled hundreds of miles to join in on the 2020 Swamp Stomp.

The 8th annual search and rescue exercise in Currie attracted participants from Tennessee, Michigan and western parts of the state. Spokeswoman Jami Benson says the simulation has more than 100 participants searching for two women in their 30s in the Black River Hunt Club’s 12,000 acre land.

“Jill and Kim, these are our two voluntarily missing individuals and one thing that we like to put out to all of our searchers is photos,” Benson said.

From drones to ATVs, the mission is simple: find those women.

“The two simulated missing individuals — the two young women — are very well versed on how to pretend to be missing, so this is not their first time doing a simulation,” Benson said.

Benson says this training is not just for those in the field. She is learning from Pender County EMS & Fire Chief Woody Sullivan on how to be a Public Information Officer.

“Cause the worst time I need to meet Jami is on a live event,” Sullivan said. “We need to be doing this training together, so, when she walks in the door, it’s like I know what her capabilities are and she knows what my capabilities are. We know the tools and trades we are bringing to the table. It makes this whole operation go so much better.”

Benson says simulations like this search happen more often than most think.

“It could be as simple as someone who is overdue such as a hunter or a hiker that has gotten turned around in the area where they are at or has gotten delayed due to bad weather,” Benson said. “It could be someone that has gotten injured while they are out and they have their mental faculties about them, but they’ll injured and they just physically can’t get themselves out of the woods.”

Woody says Verizon Wireless has sponsored the exercise by providing portable WIFI services for crews to be able to communicate with participants in the field.

Categories: Local, Pender

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