On April 16th and 17th, the Florida Chapter of Texas EquuSearch met at a remote location in Lake Butler, Florida for a weekend of teambuilding and training. The first of many events started promptly at 8:00 a.m., including all day mounted team training by Danny Word for approximately twelve individuals, in which various techniques of searching for the lost were utilized to improve their capabilities and familiarity of working from the saddle. This was a great success and at 4:00 p.m., the fun began for those just arriving and those with saddle sores.
Joined by law enforcement from a variety of local agencies, as well as a local sheriff, county commissioner and various other local dignitaries, the team spent time in the early evening bonding with new members and seeing old friends. Over a Bar-B-Q and various fixings, the team shared their story and the story of Texas EquuSearch with a viewing of the Texas EquuSearch “In Search” video on the big screen and surround sound to open the eyes of the new members and the visiting friends. It was a tear-jerking experience and tears were wiped to the side as these friends realized they were now part of something bigger than themselves. They were Texas EquuSearch!
Led by local pastor “Art” (as he wished to be called) in a benediction, the team was educated in their need for service and to the community as he shared an inspirational message to the teams on how important it was to be the leaders for the lost. He too brought tears to some in the crowd, but smiles to the many through his wittiness and good demeanor. Thanks, Art for your kind words. It was then time for the guest of honor to say a few words.
Sheriff Sadie Darnell, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, spoke to the teams and confirmed her commitment to Texas EquuSearch and a call for a partnership, not only when the need arises, but in training and other joint exercises to lead those lost home. She could not say enough, and we were thrilled to have her there. The meet and greet was closed out by a presentation from the members of Texas EquuSearch’s Florida Chapter to the Core Team thanking them for their hard work and commitment. A beautiful plaque presentation was done by Victoria who brought smiles to our faces. Many thanks back at all of you for your undying efforts to the lost.
It was not long, however, after dark that the “new” notification system went off and the phones lit up for a mock night search for a lost autistic female. The team mobilized quickly under the leadership of Ron Feb and Daphne Drew, as team leaders were appointed and decisions were made based on information gathered to which grids to deploy to. Joined by members of the mounted crews, the teams hitting the ground at night were intrigued with new challenges; no peripheral vision and the constant movement of animal life to disturb their remaining senses, for the people trying out positions they were hit with mock phone calls, including fake news reporters, producers, and distracting family members. The team did however, persevere and eventually around 12:00 p.m., the victim was located, treated in the field, and extracted to the command center. A quick debriefing was accomplished, and the teams were off to their tents for sleep by 1:00 a.m.
The next day, the teams awoke to the smell of bacon, sausage, grits, and eggs served hot and fresh from the cast iron skillet “cowboy style” over an open fire, by the crew of Texas EquuSearch. The food was well received and many seconds were had as the member told funny tidbits about the flashlight they lost or the way things changed with the darkness. Immediately after breakfast the horse moved quickly out of the gates.
Classes were offered in First Aid/CPR, Intro to k-9’s, Intro to Mounted/ATV, and Tools/Technology/Techniques promptly to get as much in as possible for the teams. The results were wonderful and the two day training session closed with a search for the victim’s phone from the previous night. This resulted in the actual finding of a needle in the haystack and return of property to its rightful owner. All in all, it was an engaging session for all, and celebration was had for those hard working individuals of Texas EquuSearch’s Florida Chapter!
Thanks to all those who helped to prepare the event, including Linda Bennett, Danny & Diane Word, Chrissy and Brian Fallon. Through their hard work the teams were welcomed, warmed, fed, and made to feel like they were at home. Thanks for all you do!!!
Below is a slideshow from the weekend training. Please enjoy!