Search and rescue volunteer group marks fifth anniversary

| August 13, 2019

COSHOCTON – Perry Twp. Search & Rescue is just over the county line in Tuscarawas County, but the group’s desire to help others knows no geographic boundaries.

Cindy Gray got the search and rescue group started in 2014 after Rusty Grewell went missing in Newcomerstown.

“On Aug. 10, 2014 he was swimming with friends and wasn’t found until the following Saturday a little after noon,” she said. “During the week, three of us went walking the banks of the river for miles looking for him. It had rained and the river had swollen so much that we knew he was either pushed or stuck on something. He was found six days later, but prior to being found my son, daughter and I prayed that Friday on the bridge by Tasty Apple that he would be found.”

That following Monday, Gray received a call from someone wanting to donate boats to an organization that could use them. She took that as a sign from God to start the nonprofit, volunteer based, Perry Twp. Search & Rescue, which is going into its fifth year.

“Since then we’ve been building our team and equipment,” Gray said. “We will assist anyone who calls us out and go wherever we are needed. People just need to give us time to get there. It’s also helpful for us to know what the situation is so we know what is needed. We need to know what we are facing so we know what gear to bring.”

Their mission is to locate and/or attempt to locate missing or lost people while aiding local departments and law enforcement, which they are careful not to overstep the boundaries of.

“If we were called out by family we want them to know that and if they tell us to stand down we will until we are needed,” Gray said. “If there is a crime scene we don’t’ want to hinder any evidence. We want them to be able to do their job.”

The group has helped with searches in Coshocton County and went out of state to West Virginia to help with massive flooding that occurred there. The Perry Twp. Search & Rescue group is very versatile and can help with water rescues, foot and ground searches and has trained K9 teams.

“We are blessed to have the dogs,” Gray said. “They find things that we may walk right past. We utilize the K9s every chance we get.”

A lot of the group’s members have backgrounds in firefighting, emergency medical services, or law enforcement, but anyone is welcome to join. Training will be provided, but must be completed before an individual can be called out to assist. There also are plenty of opportunities for people to help who don’t want to be out in the field searching.

Members meet once a month, generally on Sunday afternoons and are on call.

“We meet and then do training,” said Gray. “It can be anything from mock searches to rope training. We will do anything we feel our members need more training on or to work on.”

There are currently 15 members on the team and they also have a junior division for ages 13 to 18. The teenagers can attend meetings and trainings, but their training is limited and they aren’t allowed to work searches until they are 18.

Gray has been involved in rescues since she was 16-years-old.

“The pain a family feels when their loved one is missing is indescribable,” she said. “Nothing compares to the thought of being able to bring someone’s loved one home. Bringing someone home who has passed away is just as important. Families need closure. When someone has a lost loved one and all trails have been exhausted you can watch the hope dwindle away and that tears your heart apart to see. The more eyes you can have out there the better our ability to hopefully quickly bring a loved one home.”

For more on Perry Twp. Search & Rescue look them up on Facebook or call 740-498-5209.

“Every single one of us loves what we do and is here to help others,” she said. “We don’t want anyone to be lost. Our organization is here to assist everyone but we also are here to help fill in the gap for the respective departments that are or would be short handed because their members may be working their jobs.”

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Category: Clubs & Organizations

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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