Two at Sheriff's Office honored for search and rescue

MOHAVE COUNTY - Mohave County Sheriff's Search and Rescue coordinator and a volunteer each have received an award at an annual Search and Rescue convention in Heber.

MCSO Sgt. Mike Friend, Search and Rescue coordinator, has received the Coordinator of the Year award, presented by Sergeant David Noland of Cochise County and President of Arizona Search and Rescue Coordinators Group.

The prestigious award is based on the individual's contributions to the entire search and rescue community and units throughout Arizona.

"I have known Sgt. Friend for many years; he has dedicated his life to Search and Rescue and he is very deserving of this award," Noland said.

In each of the 15 counties in Arizona, coordinators nominate volunteers to recognize their above-and-beyond contributions.

Luis Vega of the Search and Rescue Volunteer group in Kingman received with the state-level Volunteer of the Year award, presented by Noland.

One of Vega's many contributions was his creation, the "Play Safe" program that he has presented to some 500 children in the Kingman Area.

The program teaches children what to do in many vulnerable situations.

For instance, if a child becomes lost, the child should stay in that place. In many cases, that allows the search and rescue team to find them faster.

The program is at the Bullhead City school district now. Vega also travels all over the county teaching search and rescue units a variety of classes ranging from global positioning system, map and compass, and rope rescue.

"Whatever Vega is asked to do, he does," Friend said. "Vega has been a committed and dedicated search and rescue volunteer with the Sheriff's Office for seven years."