BRUCETON MILLS, W.Va. — The Mountaineer Area Rescue Group (MARG) gathered at the WVU Natural Resource Center with those who have helped within’ the organization, as well as its mission partners to celebrate its 25th Anniversary on the day of Aug. 6.

This celebration was for current, past and new members who have helped play a role in the past 25 years of volunteer work that went into the group. Those who came out to celebrate, got to participate in either a “high ropes course” or ziplining. They then had lunch and watched a slideshow of memories from the past years. Members got to socialize, as well as listen to speeches from a founding member and the President of the group.

MARG is a search and rescue team in the Morgantown area. They respond to searches and rescues that are generally within’ two hours of Morgantown but will go out of area if they are requested. The group provides comprehensive rescue and searches, but is also currently working on high-angle rescue. Searches can include canine search and rescue, man-trackers who specialize in following individuals’ tracks, ground searches, and search management.

Vice president of the group, Anne Russell, expressed that the group excels at search management because they put a great amount of effort into understanding the best way that they can manage searches, best deploying of resources and finding a lost person the most efficient and effective way that they can.

Russel was excited to be with those who have helped make the group into what it is now, and was happy to be celebrating 25 years. She mentioned how nice it was to see how the group has evolved from the nineties where there was not as much technology, to where they are today. Although she only joined two years ago, Russell feels that she can really trust her team, and that they can trust her if they are in need too.

While discussing the importance of celebrating their growth over the past 25 years, Russell said, “search and rescue can sometimes feel like a thankless job, you know, we’re all volunteers so, we’ll spend a lot of time training and a lot of time going out on missions, a lot of times which are rainy or cold, or pretty miserable. Getting toured up by greenbrier out at Coopers Rock, so its really nice to have a day where we’re just celebrating what we’ve done and recognizing all of our individual achievements.”

Man-tracking team flags (WBOY Image)

There is a man-tracking team that has been created within’ MARG. These members look for footprints from the missing individual and follow them to find any clues or trails to where they might be. They had a “Last Known Place” (LKP) mock scene set up, where a car was left in the parking lot with footprint evidence. The first footprint is the most important, this is where they will get measurements in order to confirm the same footprints later on in the search. This man-tracking team uses flagging for certain meanings, in which they are:

  • Blue- Confirmed missing individuals’ footprint
  • Yellow/Green- Corridor into the vehicle, lets searchers know where to not step so the do not destroy evidence
  • Pink- Known footprint
  • Orange- Any general clue

For those who are interested, MARG is always looking for volunteers who want to help in a variety of fields, rather than just outdoor search and rescue. They hold monthly meetings, where monthly exercises and training follow. By clicking here, and pressing the “join the team” button, you too can help in volunteering.