Campers seeking out survival tips

Published 6:47 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Brookhaven’s Cole Kergosien said he and his friends now knowjust how many people it can affect if children don’t pay attentionto safety and location when they’re in the woods.

“They put a lot of people out to look for you,” he said.

At the first day of a survival camp sponsored by Just Kiddin’ onMonday afternoon, Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey explainedto the boys the process that takes place when a child goesmissing.

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“When your mama calls 911, that goes through the dispatcher tothe sheriff’s department, and they send deputies, and then they’recalling me, and then the fire departments, and it gets bigger fromthere,” he said. “Then everyone goes out looking.”

Galey told the boys that on any given manhunt, as much as$750,000 in equipment alone may be on scene, with the lawenforcement and wildlife vehicles, the fire trucks, mobile commandunits, all-terrain vehicles and the like. But if the search has togo aerial, it gets a lot worse than that, he said.

“Just to get the helicopter to come out costs $2,500 an hour,”he said.

The children got to hear the story of two grown men lost on theBogue Chitto River several years ago, and how authorities spent allnight looking for them with boats and helicopters, as well as onfoot.

“That goes to show you don’t have to be kids to get lost in thewoods,” he said. “All the logs and limbs and trees and debris fromKatrina had gathered up in the river and they couldn’t get through,and they’d had to spend the night on an island, but nobody knewwhere they were.”

Galey also showed the boys how the Incident Command Systemworks, and how searchers would have to follow a certain commandformation to most effectively search for a missing child in thewoods.

The children got to tour the mobile command unit that is sent tomost incidents around the county and in some other areas, and Galeyshowed them where the radios and the communications equipment arekept.

But finally, Galey emphasized that when children pretend they’relost and allow search parties to gather in hopes of finding them,there is nothing amusing about it.

“If all this happened because you were playing a joke, we reallywouldn’t think it’s funny,” he said.

Just Kiddin’ owner Joe Fleming said he put the camp together toteach kids a little bit about the wilderness, and that Galey’sappearance was aimed at starting the week off on the rightfoot.

“I just wanted this to teach children what is detailed when youget lost in the woods,” he said.

During the rest of the one-week camp, Fleming said officialsfrom the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, the Department ofWildlife, Game and Fisheries, and an Army survival specialist willspeak to the group. The final day, he said, will be a day in thewoods where they will practice water treatment and survival, aswell as building shelters in the woods.

And Zane Rushing said he’s already learned a valuable lesson,even in the first day.

“Stay where you’re supposed to,” he said.