BRUNSWICK (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Two searches for missing Maine people that gained statewide and national attention in late September and early October also drew volunteers from all over Maine to help find them.
A missing skydiving instructor in Lebanon, Maine and a missing woman in North Yarmouth both involved multi-day searches with a number of statewide agencies -- including volunteer search and rescue teams.
The Maine Association of Search and Rescue (MASAR) has 15 teams all over the state. The teams in the association are not just avid outdoors enthusiasts. They are certified by standards approved by the Maine Warden Service, including navigation, wilderness skills, physical fitness, some first aid -- and even crime scene prevention.
All the members are volunteers who choose to leave work, and family, when Game Wardens call them to mobilize.
"When somebody in our society gets in trouble, people who have the capability should be able to help them," said Jim Bridge, a former K-9 search team leader with MASAR. "Essentially the Wardens have said, 'this is what we want.' We have search teams that are not certified, and they don't get called."
The teams travel all over the state to help with people who are lost, alive or dead.
A MASAR searcher found a deceased skydiving instructor, Brett Bickford, who went missing after he fell out of his harness in Lebanon in late September.
"We don't want to leave families wondering," said Bridge.
Bridge said searches for someone who is likely already dead carry less urgency than those for people who are alive, lost, and possibly hungry, cold, and in danger.
"The best part is simple -- you find somebody and you walk them out or you carry them out and they're alive and they continue on with their life," said Bridge. "That is a feeling that just can't be described, it's so wonderful."