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VDEM Search & Rescue need more staff & money to meet demand

VDEM Search & Rescue need more staff & money to meet demand (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) -- The Virginia Department of Emergency Management says it needs more money and more resources to meet the demand for the Search and Rescue Division.

"The bottom line is we all want our loved ones to come home," VDEM Search and Rescue Coordinator Mark Eggeman said.

Bringing the missing home is what motivates Search and Rescue with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to keep going.

However, there's only two people running search and rescue at VDEM.

"Any additional man power would help alleviate some of that load," Mark Eggeman said.

Both VDEM Search and Rescue Coordinator Mark Eggeman and VDEM Deputy Search and Rescue Coordinator Billy Chrimes have helped coordinate 202 search and rescue missions the last three years. 

In the last five years, VDEM has provided 566 people free search and rescue training.

Chrimes and Eggeman say volunteers make a huge difference with a limited staff. In the search for Hannah Graham 4,000 people were used on more than 875 search tasks, involving 21,000 search hours and 94,000 miles driven.

However, Chrimes says the demand for search and rescue training is through the roof. The Virginia State Crime Commission says 87% of agencies surveyed said they wanted additional search and rescue training. It usually takes between six to nine months to get an agency the training they've requested.

"We are basically stretched out to our maximum right now as far as training," Bill Chrimes said. "There are very few weekends that are not occupied by some training event."

The Virginia State Crime Commission will be deciding on whether to recommend legislation that would add two additional full-time staff positions to search and rescue. The vote will be on December 2nd.