Search & Rescue could use some help of its own


I was hiking in upper Kyle Canyon one stormy afternoon last year when the word went out that a cliff climber had fallen.

The rain came down hard. With the canyon socked in, visibility was terrible.

But in short order a helicopter cut through the angry storm and appeared just a few yards from the cliff face about 100 feet above the fallen climber. A few minutes later, a zip line dropped like spider silk and a member of Metro's Search & Rescue team repelled onto a steep, rain-slick slope. Moments later, with the climber secured in a basket, rescuer and rescued ascended into the belly of the helicopter and slashed back out of the mountains to a waiting hospital emergency room.

The process took just minutes.

Such drama is just another day at the office for the group, which is administered by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department with seven officers providing the command and training structure. In addition Search & Rescue trains a group of volunteers to assist them. The team trains dozens of hours a month and is on call every minute of the year.

Between the professionals and volunteers, Search & Rescue covers more than 8,000 square miles of terrain ranging from the desert floor to Mount Charleston peak. (Only a few months ago a rescue helicopter plucked three survivors from a private helicopter crash near the peak at more than 10,000 feet.)

Fortunately, you don't have to be able to climb a mountain or hang from a helicopter to help Metro's Search & Rescue unit. If you can swing a golf club or afford to buy a program ad, you'll make your presence felt.

Much of the funding for the volunteers is generated from the Friends of Search & Rescue annual golf tournament, which this year is set for May 3 at Canyon Gate Country Club. For tournament details, contact Rick McGough at 269-1093 or via e-mail at rmcgough@creditone.com.

Here's the good news for bad golfers, McGough says. Even if you're a really rotten duffer and your ball gets hopelessly lost in the rough, Search and Rescue unit will help find it.

TRUE TEAMWORK: When Bernice Walls was badly burned in a home fire, friends of her son, Coronado High lacrosse player Melvin Walls, were determined to try to help the single mom and her four children. While she recovers in a local hospital, they are staging a car wash, bake sale and skating exhibition starting at 8 .m. Saturday at Del Webb Middle School at 2200 Reunion Drive in Henderson.

OUR TOWN: Opportunity Village has been a part of the Las Vegas community so long -- 56 years -- it easily might have been taken for granted long ago if not for the efforts of driving force Linda Smith and Executive Director Ed Guthrie.

On Tuesday at the nonprofit's Oakey Boulevard campus, locals were honored by the organization.

The auditorium was jammed with familiar faces from state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Parraguirre (whose wife Leslie received the Humanitarian Award) to the parents of some of the hundreds of mentally challenged adults who benefit from Opportunity Village.

My favorite moment came when Kara Lyons and Reginald Daniel were named Woman and Man of the Year and received a standing ovation. Those proud, productive OV clients are a reminder that a lot of good happens in this community every day.

ON THE BOULEVARD: John Chambers greatly deserves a park named in his honor. He has done more to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and wheelchair athletes than just about anyone.

BOULEVARD II: Scandal-plagued U.S. Sen. John Ensign collected just $50 in contributions during the latest reporting period. Fortunately, rooms at the No Tell Motel are just $39.95 double occupancy.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? E-mail comments and contributions to Smith @reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.