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"I suited up in dive gear [and] got lowered down into a mine shaft in Fresno." - Mark Bell
"Two gentlemen had tipped a canoe on Pyramid [Lake.]" - Charles Smart
"[We were] rescuing a gentleman who had gotten drunk and fallen halfway down and broken his back." - Randy Post
"Had we not gotten her out of there, she wouldn't have made it the night." - Luke Holcomb
These are just some of the scenarios unpaid HASTY Team volunteers respond to. No matter what the call is, they answer.
Case Roller Travelite Travelite Roller Pink Pink Liters 95 Team member Mark Bell said, "the call comes out, the page will go out, and we'll be told where to go, what to bring."
Members of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office HASTY Team are on call around the clock, ready to drop everything to respond to an emergency.
Rescue technician Luke Holcomb said, "we do just about everything. We do mountain rescues up in the Tahoe area. We've taken part in a couple of avalanche rescues."
The rescuers train year-round to maintain their skills and learn new ones. Team president Charles Smart said, "given the time of the year, this year we're focusing on avalanche, winter survival, ice rescues, swift water- those sort of things take a priority."
Team members focus on different specialties, making the 50-person crew so unique, their talents are often called upon outside of Washoe County. Bell said, "we get calls from other counties in California and Nevada primarily. We got a call one time for a victim who had fallen into a mine."
None of the team members are paid for the work they do. Smart said he worked about 400 hours on a completely volunteer basis last year.
The sheriff's office provides them basic gear, but everything they need after that comes out of their own pockets. Rescue technician Randy Post has been on the HASTY team for 24 years. He said, "we do pay for our own equipment and it runs into thousands of dollars." Post estimates he's spent $10,000 during his time on the team. Some of the rescuers even pay for their own training classes.
Smart said, "we're all out here for the same reason and it takes a certain type of character to be out here in these sorts of conditions." The HASTY Team has hit its limit of 50 members, and a sheriff's office spokesperson tells us there is already a waiting list for other volunteers hoping to join.
Several senior members have been on the HASTY Team for more than 30 years, never asking for anything in return for their community service.
Holcomb said, "that's the worst time of [a victim's] life and you're there for them so it's good to be able to provide that service to the community."
HASTY Team members said you shouldn't hesitate to call for help if you get into a life-threatening situation. They suggest staying put after you make contact with emergency responders because it makes it easier for HASTY rescuers to find you.
The HASTY Team is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and does accept donations.