When Carly "Charli" Scott and Moreira "Mo" Monsalve went missing earlier this year, Maui County did not have a search and rescue team like Kaua'i (KSAR) and Hawai'i Island (HSAR).
The tragedy that befell these two families has birthed a permanent, certified search and rescue operation--Maui Search and Rescue (MSAR)--to assist all Maui families find lost or missing loved ones. The Maui Police Department (MPD) and Maui Fire Department (MFD) are in full support of this civilian project.
In February, an outpouring of concern brought out volunteers to assist the MPD and Maui Fire Department (MFD) members hunt for clues regarding the missing women's whereabouts. Community teams searched 117 miles of roadway and countless hills and gulches. MPD Officer John Jakub-czak of the Criminal Investigation Division said he never experienced so much community support.
Maui Search and Rescue founding members (left to right) John Pipkin, Josh Berlein and Jeff Simon want to make search and rescue available to everyone in disasters, for elderly people who walk away from their caregivers, for runaway kids, lost hikers--anyone who turns up missing.
Photo: Jacob Evans
The group of volunteers who helped MPD search for the women started MSAR. Carly's parents, John Pipkin and Kimberly Scott; rally volunteers; and Jeff Simon of ELCO Electric coordinate and direct the nonprofit. Trained Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician Josh Berlein brings search and rescue expertise to the organization.
Local Maui fund development professionals are volunteering their services to develop a donor base. The team is seeking community support for a permanent location, in-kind donations and sustaining funds.
The financial needs of the MSAR are significant, but reasonable, when compared to the benefit. Simon calculates that as a 100 percent volunteer operation, MSAR will need $40,000 to operate annually, assuming a permanent office/meeting room is donated.
"To get started, we need a base station, charger and eight to 10 professional radios, plus five satellite phones," said Simon. "We can use GPS apps on our phones for now."
"When we began looking for Carly and Mo, we only had cell phones," said Simon. "We didn't know how to coordinate with the police or fire departments, what to do with things we found, or how to legally set up a reward. Any family who loses a member would be at the same disadvantage."
Pipkin still works tirelessly to find his daughter.
"We want to make search and rescue available to everyone in disasters, for elderly people who walk away from their caregivers, for runaway kids, lost hikers--anyone who turns up missing," he said.
One benefit MSAR brings is that they begin searches immediately. Laws require that a person be missing 48 hours before police can label them "missing." MSAR does not have that restriction; they can start immediately on any legitimate request for search and rescue.
Training and attracting expert volunteers is Simon's first priority, Simon said. He's taking National Association for Search and Rescue online courses in incident management and coordination. Others are attending classes at Maui County Civil Defense, provided through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S Department of Homeland Security. Members of Penticton Search and Rescue (PenSAR) in British Columbia have pledged to conduct training classes for MSAR while they are on-island each winter.
Maui security professionals, lifeguards, veterans, hunters and hikers who know off-road Maui, and crews who manage Maui conservation lands can also contribute their skills to MSAR.
Simon is also actively soliciting the pro bono services of a Maui attorney and a CPA to help the organization comply with county, state and national regulations.
Dogs had to be flown in to search for Carly. Now, master dog handler Mike Mason has volunteered to train a pair of Maui canines for MSAR to detect air and ground scents for live and deceased persons.
Donations may be made online with major credit cards or via PayPal at www.MauiSearchandRescue.org or mailed to Maui Search and Rescue, 415 Dairy Road, Ste. E-214, Kahului, HI 96732. Contact Simon at 633-3682.