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PC Search and Rescue says viral post to change your voicemail when missing isn’t the right move

Pennington County Search and Rescue
Pennington County Search and Rescue(Jeffrey Lindblom)
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 6:12 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - A recent viral post is encouraging people to change their voice mail when they’re lost. Pennington County Search and Rescue doesn’t think so.

Instead, for starters, they recommend telling friends or family where you’ll be going and drawing them a detailed map and sticking to it.

James Dietz, Operations Officer with Pennington County Search and Rescue, says, “That’s paramount. So, if someone knows where you’re going to be, even the general location -- if you’re overdo, and we get the call that you’re overdo, and we go out and look for you, we at least know where to start.”

Plus, you need service to change your voice mail. If there’s service available there’s a better option.

“Get to a high point. Just dial 911. If they don’t get your actual GPS coordinates,” says Dietz, “they get a general location of where you’re at and that takes a lot less cell battery than changing your entire voice mail.”

Some 911 numbers can even take a text, which takes up far less battery. He says there are tons of devices on the market that track your whereabouts.

“You can just push a button and it will send a signal,” says Dietz, “and if we have that coordinate of where you’re at we can get right to you.” He adds, “Preparing on the for end is very paramount.”

If and when somebody does get lost, Pennington County Search and Rescue has all sorts of gadgets, gizmos and vehicles to make sure that person is found.

“[The] Rescue II,” says Dietz, “it’s our secondary rescue truck. Main function with this truck is rope rescue, but it’s also kind of our multi-modality truck. Every rescuer or searcher will have a GPS on them too.”

The GPS helps track data, and there are multiple other vehicles, like the SHERP that can handle all terrain on land and even function as a boat on water. He points to cubbies full of equipment that help to get people found, or rescued safe and sound.

There’s even a place to run remote operations in the “Search and Rescue Command Post.”

It’s a spacious place that can house large teams to conduct missions, with a spotlight on communication.

“Utilizing our communications systems here we’re able to talk to every agency in the western part of South Dakota in one modality or another,” says Dietz.

Safety is a top priority.

“Bottom line is we’re here for the public. If there’s a call in the middle of the night, 24/7, 365... we’re there to provide whatever service is needed.”

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