Reverence for life affords us our basic humility and speeds us on our missions at any hour, whatever the conditions, without regard for personal comfort.

Escambia Search and Rescue, Inc. (ESAR) is a volunteer organization committed to helping others through an array of search and rescue efforts. It is a self-supporting, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation chartered by the State of Florida. Volunteers are the heart and soul of Escambia Search and Rescue, Inc. at every level of command and membership.

ESAR Director: Clint Retherford 

Assistant Director: OB Pettit

Communications Commander: Bob Tribble

Marine Operations Commander: OB Pettit

Land Commander: Jeremy Findley

Aviation Commander: Jared Cash

K9 Commander: Michelle Caputo

Logistics Commander: Thomas Butler

Dive Commander: Wesley Rose

Director Emeritus: Skip Bollens

NON-voting Members:

Treasurer: Eleanor McGee

Secretary: Albert Bressler

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Training Day actually started the night before with some of our members setting up camp at Spring Lake in Cantonment. The great thing about this advance force was that they effectively eliminated flying insects from the training site with a mosquito fogger.

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Unfortunately, it was impractical to fog all of the area where the K9 handlers were training dogs and handlers. Inspite of the copious amounts of flying insect pests, Jaime Martin and K9 Keira were easily able to find Luke hiding in the woods. K9 Keira was amazing - it was a lot of fun to watch her work.


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Jeremy Findley and rest of the Land Command trained on 4 wheel ATV's, wilderness skills and other Search and Rescue skills. They have some of the best tools (boy's and girl's toys) - for finding missing persons. Land training is FUN!!!

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OB Petit and the rest of Marine Ops Command trained on deploying, trailoring and running the 16 foot Trackers. There is nothing better on a hot day than running a boat on the water.



Jared Cash and the rest of Aviation Command set up the drones and trained with them - this is the cutting edge of Search and Rescue.

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Jim Walters and the rest of the Communications Command trained on setting up and operating the small MCC which is perfect for wilderness search operations. If you love electronics, this is the place for you to help find missing persons.

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All of this training could never have happened had it not been for the excellent preparations and support of Tom Butler and the rest of his Support Command.

ESAR Dive Commander, Clint Retherford has been promoted to the position of Director. The current Board of Directors are as follows:

Communications Commander and Assistant Director:     James Walters

Marine Operations Commander:    OB Petit

Land Commander:    Jeremy Findley

Aviation Commander:    Jared Cash

K9 Commander:    Michelle Caputo

Support Commander:    Thomas Butler

Director Emeritus:    Alfred (Skip) Bollens

NON-voting Members:

Treasurer:    Jon Rhodes

Secretary:    Albert Bressler

Mike and Hudson
The U.S. Canine Biathalon recently took place on 320 acres, in Anniston, Alabama.  This event was open to all types of Handler/Canine teams, including civilian pets, search & rescue, military working dogs, and police dog teams.

The 2019 US Canine Biathalon was comprised of 84 obstacles over 4.2 miles, with 1,285 participants.  It featured diverse, challenging aspects for both K9s & Handlers to overcome and rely on each other to make it through the grueling course of streams, tunnels, vertical climbs, and the infamous Heartbreak Hill.  It is the ultimate K9/Handler bonding experience, and is a true testament for what a K9/Handler team can overcome together and accomplish.

Escambia Search And Rescue Canine Handler Mike Rhodes, and his canine partner Hudson started off the course excited, but timid for a few obstacles they had never seen before.   As they went through the course, their confidence excelled and Hudson was the one who helped pull Mike up the gauntlet of Snake Hill and then Heartbreak Hill.  "He did things I have never seen him do and never thought he was capable of doing.  And from my side of the leash, you could just tell he had a blast doing it!!"
Hudson and Mike teamed up with a few Handlers from Klaas Kids to form Team "Klassy Mud Puppies," which placed 5th out of 44 registered teams.  Mike says it was a great experience, and he's totally looking forward to next year.

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ESAR Members used a personal vehicle to back far enough down a flooded roadway to launch an ESAR vessel,

A camper from out of state found himself surrounded by flood waters near the Bluff Springs Recreational Area on the shores of Escambia River.

There was a collaborative effort by members of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Escambia Search And Rescue to launch an ESAR vessel on the flooded roadway to gain access to where he was camping, in order to help him back to safety.

On Tuesday, December 5th, at about 6:20pm ESAR volunteers responded to a report of a missing elderly male with Dementia who had walked away from family at the Red Lobster on 9th Ave.  This is a heavily congested area, with many locations that would have been a nightmare to search, sort of a needle in a haystack type situation.  He could have been inside any number of stores in Cordova Mall, any area of Sacred Heart Hospital, or parking garages, etc...  Thankfully, he was enrolled in Project Lifesaver!!!  An ESAR Project Lifesaver Electronic Search Specialist was able to pick up the signal as he was driving into the area.  The missing person had crossed two very busy roadways, and was found near the McDonald's on Airport Blvd, near the Sam's Club.  He was recovered within minutes, and returned to his family without incident.

This is the 4th Project Lifesaver rescue within a couple of months.  If you know of anyone with a wandering condition (Autism, Alzheimer's, Dementia, Traumatic Brain Injury, or related), please have them enroll with Project Lifesaver.

The all-volunteer members of Escambia Search And Rescue are often called away from home, family events, work, and so on, to help others.  Occasionally we need help ourselves.  This is a true life story that happened to a member of Escambia Search And Rescue on Thanksgiving Thursday, 2017.

Imagine that you’re a single mom, busy cooking dinner on Thanksgiving.  Now imagine that for the last few minutes, you realize that you have not heard or seen one of your sons, who has Autism.  You ask your other son where his brother is, and he says “I don’t’ know, he got mad and ran off”.  A bolt of fear flies through you as you grab your keys and jump in the car.

Pulling off of your street, you see your son running down the road at a full run.  As he turns onto a side street that you know is a dead end, you think, “Well good, at least this is a dead end road, he has nowhere to go”.

As you turn onto that dead end road, your fears fly back as you see him dart into the wooded area at the end of the road.  The wooded area at the end of this road is made up of swamp and woods that cover about 25 square miles, and he was at a dead run as he left the roadway.

This type of situation occurs often all across the country.  Sometimes there is a happy reunion; sometimes there is a tragic ending.  Fortunately, this story does not end in tragedy thanks to a program called Project Lifesaver.

Project Lifesaver is a program for people who have a cognitive condition that may lead to wandering, and not being able to find their way home, or be safe (such as Autism, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Traumatic Brain Injury, etc.).  They wear a small radio transmitter that constantly emits a radio signal that can be picked up by receivers that ESAR has distributed with certified Electronic Search Specialists around Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

The mom in the above scenario is a member of Escambia Search And Rescue, and is a certified Electronic Search Specialist.  She yells for her mom to call ESAR as she grabs her Project Lifesaver receiver and hits the woods.  Turning on the receiver, she immediately gets a beeping chirp, which tells her which way to go to her son.  As he changes direction time and time again, Project Lifesaver keeps telling mom which way to go, until she closes in on him about 75 yards deep in this thickly wooded, vine-choked area, and they both safely return home.

This situation was over in minutes, but without Project Lifesaver, this could have very easily turned into a multi-day search, involving hundreds of volunteers, and a multitude of public safety agencies.  That is just one of the values of Project Lifesaver.  You can figure up the value of volunteer man hours; you can figure up the value of public safety resources (law enforcement, fire, ems,  air support, etc.).  What you cannot put a value on is safely recovering a vulnerable child and bringing them home within minutes.

If you would like to know more about Project Lifesaver, please email


On October 02, in the middle of the day, an elderly female with Alzheimer's wandered away from her caregiver in a thickly congested commercial shopping area near Cordova Mall.  Fortunately, she was enrolled in Project Lifesaver, a LOCATING TECHNOLOGY in which ESAR is heavily involved.  ESAR volunteers quickly moved into the area and searched until picking up the radio signal from the transmitter worn by the missing female.  We were able to locate her, while she was wandering aimlessly around a large apartment complex.  She had fallen, and scraped her leg and forehead but was otherwise OK.  Total time from initial phone call from the caregiver to safely recovering the missing person was ONLY 22 MINUTES! 

On November 12th, after darkness had settled in, an elderly male with dementia wandered away from his caregivers in another busy commercial shopping area off of Davis Hwy.  Also, fortunately for him, he was enrolled in Project Lifesaver.  ESAR volunteers responded to the area.  His signal was picked up, and he was located about a mile away from where he was last seen.  His radio transmitter led searchers directly to him inside another big store.  He was not walking around outside, so would have been very hard to locate without all of the time and effort it would take to go into, and search the entire floor of every store and restaurant in the area.  Total time from initial phone call from the caregiver to safely recovering the missing person was ONLY 31 MINUTES!

A quick google search for "Missing Alzheimer's" or "Missing Autism" will bring up a multitude of news stories from around the country.  Some involve days of searching and hundreds of man hours, yet still end with the death or injury of a loved one.  This is why ESAR is so heavily involved in Project Lifesaver.

Project Lifesaver uses a small radio transmitter worn by a person with a wandering condition (Alzheimer's, Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, Etc...).  Escambia Search And Rescue has 18 receivers distributed around Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties (from Pensacola to Cantonment to Pace to Gulf Breeze and Navarre).  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON PROJECT LIFESAVER AND HOW TO ENROLL