GOSHEN COUNTY – The spring of 2019 brought a new youth program to Goshen County.
Jerry Numon with the Goshen County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team was looking for a way to increase the community’s involvement in the program by organizing a cadet program. The program offers young people an opportunity to become part of something bigger, encompassing training in life or death situations, first aid and the ability to work with K-9’s.
“It’s one of those things that we needed people that are involved and young kids get excited about this,” Numon said. “If we can get them excited for a couple of years then it might become a lifelong thing.”
Numon said the cadets go through all the training of regular members, but are accompanied by an adult at all times on calls during their participation with the Cadet Program. The Cadets work hand-in-hand with the other members of Search and Rescue learning how to work in different scenarios.
The Goshen County SAR is able to get the Cadets involved in cases that need to work with K-9’s that are nationally certified, both for tracking or for cadaver missions.
Rebekah Wells, who is currently SAR’s Secretary, a co-advisor with Art Lowther and future Instructor for the Goshen County SAR Cadets, got her start in a similar program in California. Starting at 17, the training sparked Wells’ interest and dedication for the long haul. Wells said it was a special situation because not everyone had the same opportunities she did. Wells is currently training her K-9 Cayenne to become search-and-rescue certified.
“With this program that we’re doing, we’re providing them with an environment, like I said, where you feel comfortable moving into the search and rescue,” Wells said.
Devin Reber is currently volunteering with the cadet program. He always knew he wanted to be able to help people. At 16 years old, Reber believes this program is a great way for him to get involved in something that he is passionate about before the reality of adulthood, where jobs may not be as forgiving of the time away being a search and rescue member can require.
“I wanted to join Search and Rescue a long time ago, but I didn’t really know that I could. I thought I had to be much older – like over 18,” Reber said. But I found out I could and I was like ‘I really want to do this.’ But until you go out on call-outs and trainings you don’t really realize how important it really is. It takes a lot of commitment,” Reber said. “I want to do something important. I want to be able to help somebody because I try and put myself in other people’s shoes, and when I think about somebody that’s lost, what they’re feeling, how scared they are, I want to make sure that they come home safe.”
Numon said, “Devin’s a good kid. He wants to learn – has a real desire.”
Youth in Goshen County over 14 years of age who are looking for a physical and mental challenge while being able to help in their community, as well as in other areas, can sign up with a parent’s permission. The youth interested in the program must abide by guidelines set out in the application, including maintaining their grades, which can be obtained by contacting Jerry Numon at (307) 250-0296.