Meet SRP Volunteer Michael Yeck: In his free time he helps Arizona Search, Track and Rescue (AZSTAR) to find missing people using trained air-scent and trailing dog-handler teams. In this post, Michael shares his rewarding experience. (Photo: Michael with his trailing dog, Bo, a blue tick coonhound.)
What brought you to the organization?
I wanted to help others and thought it was a great opportunity. I also love the outdoors and try to spend as much time out of the city as possible, so it works out good for me.
What do your volunteer tasks include?
I am a volunteer search-and-rescue member, and my tasks include training search-and-rescue dogs (trailing, air-scent and cadaver dogs) and helping in search-and-rescue missions. I am trained in man tracking, GPS, map reading, first aid/CPR and wilderness survival.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering with AZSTAR?
I enjoy being out in nature and being able to help others. I really love watching the dogs use their basic instincts to find missing people and the science behind using a search dog.
Is there a specific instance you can recall that stands out as a time where you felt like you were truly making a difference?
I was on a search in Colorado for a missing 9-year-old boy. We had gotten to the top of the mountain where we were going to start our search before sunrise. We had been warned that it was the opening day of deer season and to be careful for hunters and make sure we had all our orange gear on that day. We were getting our gear ready, and we heard a shot go off close to our command post. We all assumed it was hunters starting their day. When I looked around, I saw the detective who was working the case had an accidental discharge to his leg. I immediately grabbed my trauma kit and dropped the officer to the ground. We were able to cut his pants and find the wound. We then wrapped the wound and got him in a truck and to the bottom of the mountain before a helicopter was launched. The doctors said that our actions saved his life, and I am very happy and lucky to have been a part of that experience.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m very blessed to be able to be with such a great team. Next to being a father and husband, it’s the most rewarding thing I do. We are always looking for people to help hide for the dogs during training sessions, or people that are interested in search and rescue.