From its beginnings, the VSAR Posse has had a significant life-saving impact, not only in Yavapai County, but in all of Northern Arizona. Numerous lost persons have been found and returned to safety, and some of them had been facing life-threatening situations. A major highlight for VSAR was in January 1990, when VSAR was selected by the Arizona Search and Rescue Coordinators as the Search and Rescue Posse of the Year, out of more than 100 SAR units in Arizona. Again, in April of 2011, at the Arizona Search and Rescue Conference held in Heber, Arizona, VSAR was recognized as Arizona’s Search and Rescue Unit of the Year for 2010.
Over the 30-plus years of VSAR’s existence, the unit’s level of experience and capability has continued to expand as the science and sophistication of search and rescue evolves. The use of GPS and cell phones are examples of this. The types of YCSO missions have also expanded and today include urban searches for Alzheimer subjects, road control and evacuation for wildfires, flood monitoring and evacuation, and evidence searches. VSAR provides support for community functions, such as the annual National Night Out in Sedona and other Verde Valley communities, as well as Verde River Day at Dead Horse State Park.
The number of search and rescue missions has steadily grown during VSAR’s history, a product of increased tourist visitation to the area as well as the modern hikers’ greater reliance on help by cell phone. VSAR personnel participate in more than 40 SAR operations a year, not only in Yavapai County but also assisting in adjacent counties, and the total number of callouts from YCSO continues to increase.
Posse members wear helmets and carry the gear and supplies necessary to conduct SAR operations, provide support to subjects―First Aid, clothing, food, water—and be self-sufficient in the field for a 24-hour period.