BUTTE - You know, if you’re ever in a jam, you’re going to need the guys of the 15/90 Search and Rescue to haul you out.
But this group’s in a bit of a jam themselves. They could really use some younger volunteers to join the ranks of their aging membership.
“We want more young people, we want to pass on our knowledge while were still in good shape, you know, we’d like to pass that on to the young people so that they next generation doesn’t have to learn on the job like we did,” said 15/90 Search and Rescue Commander Brad Belke.
Butte’s all-volunteer rescue team has just over 35 members with more than half of the members being 50 years old and older. At 73 years old, Fred Parker dedicates his time to search and rescue.
“I still work every day and try to stay in shape, and I’ll stay in search and rescue until I’m too old to walk,” said Parker.
The group needs younger people who can handle a task that can take its volunteers into rough terrain in some of the most inclement weather conditions.
“It can be enormously physical, there’s been some times where you just come back absolutely exhausted,” said Belke.
The group is hoping to find at least 10 new volunteers that will be up for this task.
“A motivation to help the community and a sincere drive to be able to respond at 2 o’clock in the morning when it’s 10 below zero and go out and find somebody who desperately needs your help,” said Parker.
Like many volunteer groups in Butte, the search and rescue team has noticed there are fewer young people willing to make time to volunteer in their already very busy schedules. And though search and rescue is not easy, the rewards for this kind of work are great.
“There was a search a couple of years ago we thought we were going to lose that woman and at the least minute we figured out where she had to be, we got in there just in time and you take her back and give her to her husband and you walk around on air for a couple of days because of what you were able to do, you were able to save a life,” said Belke.
Interested volunteers can just show up at their regular meeting on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 1590 S. Airport Road in Butte.