Metro Search and Rescue called best of the best - CBS 5 - KPHO

Metro Search and Rescue called best of the best

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Members of Metro's Search and Rescue Unit possess a number of special skills. (FOX5) Members of Metro's Search and Rescue Unit possess a number of special skills. (FOX5)

Monday's loss of a Metro officer during a rescue mission at Mount Charleston is focusing attention on the Search and Rescue Unit.

Members have a variety of special skills, from diving to medical training. The team has been recognized as among the best in the nation.

Becoming a member is not easy. Candidates must train and test continually, and if someone is skilled enough to land a spot, he or she must work continually to keep up.

"It is an exceptional, unique unit. The individuals in there are some of the best of the best," said Metro Officer Bill Cassell.

The unit has been around for 27 years and is made up of police officers, helicopter pilots and others. They work around the clock.

According to Cassell, the group last year performed 150 rescues and saved 173 people from danger.

"It responds to every situation, any individual within the 8,000 square miles of Clark County, including caves, vines, the lake, rivers, swift water, high end rescues," Cassell said.

Cassell said that even the most highly trained, prepared officers need help, which is why the team has 30 civilian volunteers standing by in case of emergency.

"They go on searches. When we need boots on the ground, when we need searches, we turn to Metro's Search and Rescue volunteers, and they assist us. We even have some physicians," said Cassell.

Team members have provided the training needed for others to excel in various occupations.

"The Search and Rescue Unit was instrumental in training some of the individuals in the fire department that have gone on to be battalion chief, deputy chiefs and captains that are now running the department," Cassell said.

Cassell was a member of Search and Rescue. When asked about his time with the unit, he said it was the best 10 years of his life.

The team is always looking for volunteers. You may find information on volunteering here.

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