Graham County Search and Rescue is the Pride of Safford

Representatives of Graham County Search and Rescue, front row, are joined by Pride of Safford Committee members for a group photo after Search and Rescue received the Pride of Safford Award for September. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

SAFFORD — The group of men and women who volunteer their time and their safety to help those in dangerous situations were honored Wednesday.

Graham County Search and Rescue received the Pride of Safford Award for September, the first award presented since the start of the pandemic.

“You know, we try to support all the neighboring cities around, anytime they need help. To recognize us and the county — since we’re part of the county — I think it’s awesome,” said Search and Rescue President  Ronnie Glaspie. “Volunteers are a key part of our community, I like to brag on Search and Rescue, but I also brag that we live in a great community that has tons of volunteers. And we couldn’t survive without our volunteers.”

Glaspie announced that Search and Rescue is ready to add a new rescue vehicle to its arsenal, thanks to a $48,000 grant from United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties. The vehicle is being purchased locally, from Kempton Chevrolet, and outfitted with necessary emergency equipment.

The award nomination explained that “the members of the Graham County Search and Rescue Squad may be called by the local authorities to aid in the search and/or rescue of an unfortunate victim. This call may take the squad anywhere in the county, in any weather, at any time. Search and Rescue is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that helps the citizens and visitors of Graham County. They also provide assistance to other counties when they request it. It is a free service to all so an early call is key to the success of a mission. It is said around the squad that volunteers may not always have the time, but because of their heart, they find it.”

Search and Rescue is trained in a number of different disciplines, including rope rescues, horseback searches, ATV/UTV searches, K-9 searches, helicopter rescues, tracking, radio communications, incident command and hiking.

“Honestly, you guys are truly amazing,” Safford Mayor Jason Kouts said. “I know you’ve been called on numerous occasions — rain, snow, whatever it is, you guys are there. We honor you and we appreciate you.”

The members of the Graham County Search and Rescue Squad are: Glaspie, Allen Carter, Anthony Wray, Brent Brasher, Brooks Knight, David Wells, Don Lackner, Doug Roden, Hyrum Morris, Jaron Tillman, Jason McDougal, Kayla Soohy, Kim Lackner, Mark Brinkley, Mary Clifford, Max Cobos, Melanie Allen, Michael Stacey, Mike Ochoa, Pete Gauna, Ray Bejarano, Ronald Lee, Steve McGaughey, Thomas Lucero, Thomas Snodderley, Trae Morris and Xavier Maldonado.