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From author M.L. Rowland's website:
"How far would you go to save the life of a stranger? Jump out of a helicopter into four feet of snow? Sleep outside in the winter? Dangle on a rope over the edge of a cliff?
M.L. Rowland has done all of these things and more, all in the line of service as a mountain Search and Rescue volunteer." Thus, it is fitting that she writes mysteries featuring a woman Search and Rescue member and that she share a little bit about women on Search and Rescue.
Search and Rescue has traditionally been a male-dominated field and, for the most part, still is. For about a dozen years, I was a very active member of a very active Search and Rescue team in the mountains of southern California. For almost two of those twelve years, I was the only woman on the team.
One question I’m asked a lot, mostly by women, is what it’s like to be a woman on Search and Rescue.
Some teams have a lot of women members; some not so many. Sometimes this is due to the normal ebb and flow of membership of a volunteer team, sometimes to the demographics of the community it serves and from which the team draws its members, sometimes, in my opinion, to how women on the team (and women in general) are treated.
In my Search and Rescue mystery series, Gracie Kinkaid is one of the only women on Timber Creek Search and Rescue. An excerpt from “Zero-Degree Murder,” the first book in the series: “Ordinarily ten men to one woman might be a to-die-for ratio. But more often than not, Gracie found that working with so many Manly Men for so many hours, often days at a time, took its toll on her. She could take only so much crotch arranging, and fart and blonde jokes before she began to crave a bubble bath or painted her toenails petunia pink.”
On our team, while minimal allowances were made for women on the mandatory physical fitness test, there was no difference in what was required in all other aspects of team membership. To qualify as a SAR Technician, Level II, as required by our team to operate in the field, we all had to pass the same National Association for Search and Rescue written and field tests which included the Incident Command System, tracking, basic survival, search tactics, and land navigation and orienteering.
While operating on a team of mostly men, I never expected anything from them that I wasn’t prepared and able to do for them. In other words, I didn’t expect special treatment based on my gender. I held my own, carried my own weight. I worked as hard as, sometimes a lot harder than, every other member of the team. What I lacked in physical strength, I tried to more than make up for in other ways: training, knowledge, expertise, and commitment.
While on a mission, when lives, including our own, were at stake, I depended on my teammates and they needed to be able to depend on me for anything and everything.
Was Search and Rescue work often difficult and physically demanding? Yes. Was working in close proximity with so many Manly Men challenging at times? Absolutely. Do I ever wish I had done something else with my life during those years on the team? Not for a second!
THANK You Ms. Rowland, I enjoyed your post.
Now, in preparation for Halloween, here is a link to the mother-load of stencils and helpful videos to aid in carving that pumpkin! (click here).