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Davis Journal

Volunteers put life on the line to rescue others

Feb 08, 2021 09:52AM ● By Becky Ginos

FARMINGTON—For members of the Davis County Sheriff Search and Rescue (DCSSR) team getting a call out in the middle of the night to bring someone to safety is what they train for. They’re all volunteers who put in hours and hours to be ready for anything.

“We all have a different profession,” said Commander Brent Jensen. “I do heating and air, we’ve had a veterinarian, someone who works for the (National) Guard, a nurse, doctors, construction workers. We have two firefighters training with us right now.”

Search and rescue is a branch of the Davis County Sheriff’s Office under the direction of Sheriff Kelly Sparks. “We purchase our personal equipment but the trucks, snow mobiles, etc. are purchased by the county.”

Jensen said he was drawn to  DCSSR after an incident while vacationing in the Tetons. “We were in the backcountry and a hiker fell 200 feet to his death. I watched a helicopter hoist him out. I’m an EMT and I love the mountains and rock climbing so I thought it was a good fit.”

The team averages 45 calls a year, he said. “We’re really busy in the summer. We get calls almost once a week, sometimes two to three times a week. A couple of times there will be two to three calls a day.”

The first rescue he went on was when an airman got stuck up Adams Canyon. “It was 11 at night and cold,” said Jensen. “There are two falls and the water was coming down and about to knock him off the edge. It was a steep climb up the side of the waterfall. The kid thought he was going to die. When we got him hooked in you could see in his face so much appreciation. I was on cloud nine. He would have died. That got me hooked.”

Stephen Rohwer is the treasurer. “I’d always been service minded and I had an accounting background,” he said. “But I realized I needed to know what was happening on the mountain to know about the gear. I did a year long training. It’s awesome to go out and serve, especially reuniting family members. There are tough days but the rewarding days far exceed the tough days.”

Erik Bornemeier is the Water Team Leader and has been with DCSSR for 17 years. “I love the outdoors and being of service,” he said. “We all start on the mountain and learn the ropes – literally. We’re an integral part of the Sheriff’s department in taking care of the county.”

Bornemeier said the team doesn’t just rescue humans sometimes they rescue animals. “We had a dog up Farmington Canyon that jumped into the river and couldn’t get out. He was just really tired. We geared up and crossed the stream to bring the dog over to safety.”

Most of the time though, they’re helping people. “A couple of years ago three young men thought they could tackle the Great Salt Lake by themselves,” said Bornemeier. “A storm hit and there were 10 foot waves that knocked them out of their kayak. They were paddling for dear life. It was 2 a.m. and we searched all night. We got two of them out of the water and the last one as he was sinking. We got him just in time.”

It’s great to save the day, Bornemeier said. “But sometimes we don’t have positive outcomes. Even when it’s a recovery we’ve always been thanked. To see the gratitude in their eyes – that’s thanks enough.”