GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- The Search and Rescue Explorer Program is part of the Josephine County Sheriff's Office. Teenagers from 14 to 17 years old can join the Explorer Program. The program was created this year and is completely free.
Teens will have to pass state requirements to become certified Search and Rescue members. Those requirements include becoming CPR certified, learning about first aid and training in search and survival techniques. Once students finish training, they can officially go out on searches.
Each search is evaluated to see if it is safe for teens. When explorers do go out on a search, they will be supervised.
Josephine County's Search and Rescue team has a long history. One searcher who has volunteered for over three decades says teens will learn more than survival skills.
"You have a lot of heart," said Don Bellum, who has been a volunteer searcher for 35 years. "You know what it's like, especially if you go out on a search. Whether it be an adult or a child, you bring them back safely and you can just see the whole family light up. You know you've done a good job. And again, it makes you feel good right here."
Currently, there are 20 members in this program. The next open house will be on Thursday, July 18 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will happen at the Josephine County Search and Rescue building at 250 Tech Way.
Because this program is completely free to teens, the Josephine County Sheriff's Office is planning to hold a summer fundraiser. It'll be at the Mod Pizza near Terry Lane on August 18. Just tell them you're there to support the Explorer Program.
Twenty percent of the profits at the Mod Pizza fundraiser will go toward the Explorer Program.
"I just think it's really important for our youth to be great at something," said Deputy Sheriff Maria Valdez. "This is an opportunity for them to learn what they can be great at. And I think it's a very good confidence builder."