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Howard Memorial Donates Equipment for Search and Rescue Team

Philanthropy Tuesday, January 23, 2018 (Willits, CA) – Adventist Health Howard Memorial (formerly Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital) recognizes the important role that our county’s first responders play in keeping the community safe and healthy. The recent wildfires underscored even more the benefits that well trained and equipped first responders can make when disasters occur. That’s why when the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SAR) team asked for the hospital’s help, the decision was easy. 

The hospital donated $14,500 to Search and Rescue towards the purchase of a new Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV), an item that has been on their wish list for quite some time. Search and Rescue is a non-profit organization and receives no annual funding from the Sheriff’s Office. The 50 members of SAR are all volunteers who donate their time and energy to help the community. Many members spend a good deal of their own money for their personal equipment and costs to travel to and from trainings. SAR’s budget for training and supplies is about $15,000 per year and is met through fundraising efforts and community donations. SAR had previously used a UTV on a “loan program” sponsored by Kawasaki and administered by Ukiah Motosports. 

The program has since been discontinued by Kawasaki. So the hospital donation was definitely a welcome gesture. 

Adventist Health Howard Memorial President, Jason Wells, explains, “During the recent fires, we worked very closely with the Search and Rescue team, and saw first-hand the great work that they do. Besides helping the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) with doing welfare checks and locating missing persons, they also provided a sense of security; both for the hospital and for the community. Knowing that we had great partners ready to help was invaluable during those times.” 
As a part of the Mendo-Lake Complex Fire operations, SAR volunteers assisted in accounting for missing persons, helping people evacuate from their homes, and also caring for and rescuing animals who were displaced, injured, or other otherwise could not be taken by their families when they evacuated. 

In addition to helping during disasters; SAR is called upon, on average twice a month to help locate missing persons or help the Sheriff’s office with evidence search for certain cases. The new UTV has already been used on several missions including to help locate a missing person in the woods off Hwy 20 and James Creek recently. 

“Mendocino County has some very rugged terrain, and typically it is in that type of terrain in which people become lost. This UTV will allow us to quickly deploy SAR resources to search areas which would otherwise not be easily accessible,” explains Jared Chaney, SAR commander. 

Sheriff Tom Allman shares, “The Sheriff’s Office and SAR is grateful to have community partners, such as Adventist Health Howard Memorial, that donate generously to provide a much-needed piece of equipment for search and rescue operations. It’s these types of relationships, between the private sector and the public, that allow our SAR Team to provide the professional services to the community that they do.” 

Dave Kobetz with MotoSports of Ukiah helped to provide the UTV at a highly discounted cost and coordinated with aftermarket vendors to donate thousands of dollars in add-ons, including a winch, windshield and a hard-shell roof. Motosports also donated the labor needed to prepare the UTV for action. 

Judson Howe, Adventist Health Howard Memorial CFO concludes, “We like partnering with organizations that help us accomplish our mission. This donation benefits not just the residents of Willits but also all of Mendocino County. To be able to help an organization that puts their lives on the line, all on their own time, makes this so worthwhile.” 

To join SAR or to learn more, visit their website at