FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 17, 2022
OSWEGO and ONONDAGA COUNTIES – Thirteen new recruits are now qualified to join the
Oswego and Onondaga County volunteer search and rescue teams after completing the 2022
Search and Rescue (SAR) Academy.
The students successfully completed several weeks of classroom and practical skills training in
Oswego and Onondaga counties. For their final exam, June 12, they were required to
demonstrate wilderness survival and navigation skills through a lengthy course at Happy Valley
Wildlife Management Area in Oswego County.
Volunteer instructors from the Oswego County Pioneer and the Onondaga County Wilderness
SAR teams conduct the joint training academy every two years. The academy covers search and
rescue techniques including map, compass, and GPS navigation, grid search techniques, man-
tracking, wilderness survival, radio communications, cold weather emergencies, crime scene
preservation, the National Incident Management System (NIMS), and other related topics.
The 13 academy graduates are Mark Bender, Constantia; Cathy Celeste, Oswego; Christina Dix,
Fulton; Timothy Gleeson, Warners; Dylan Holden, Oswego; Elisabeth Meyers, Phoenix; Adam
Pennisi, Syracuse; David Powers, Sandy Creek; Jeff Sargent, Lafayette; Kelly Schulz, Central
Square; Michael Tafler, Oswego; Chelsea Thorn, Baldwinsville; and Michele Wilson,
Team leaders congratulated the students and thanked them for their efforts.
Were excited to add these new volunteer members to our teams,” said Aaron Albrecht, Oswego
County Team Coordinator. “I have great confidence sending these recruits on search and
rescue missions in Central New York and throughout the state.”
"We are very grateful to these new recruits for the countless hours that they have put in to
complete the 2022 SAR Academy,” said Jason Baleno, Onondaga County Team Coordinator. “I
am very confident in the skills that they have learned, and look forward to working with them on
many search missions in the years to come."
NYS DEC Forest Ranger Jacob Murphy assisted in teaching the academy.
“Each year, DEC Forest Rangers conduct hundreds of search and rescue missions,” said Ranger
Murphy. “Search teams like Oswego Pioneer SAR and Onondaga Wilderness SAR play a vital
role in the wilderness when minutes and seconds count. I was proud to be part of the instruction
of these volunteers and look forward to working with them in the field.”
The Oswego and Onondaga County SAR teams frequently train together and support each other
in mutual aid searches for lost persons in Central New York and across New York State.
Both teams are all-volunteer units and serve as the primary search and rescue resource in their
respective counties, working closely with law enforcement agencies. All SAR team members are
certified as NYS DEC Basic Wildlands Searchers, and are certified in Wilderness First Aid,
American Heart Association CPR, and as Project Lifesaver Electronic Search Specialists.
The team coordinators said many community agencies help support the training efforts. Special
thanks go to the NYS Forest Rangers, NYS Police, West Monroe Fire Department, Clay
Highway Department, Oswego City/County Parks and Recreation, Oswego County Fire
Coordinators, Oswego County 911, and Onondaga County Parks for their assistance with the
2022 training academy.
For more information, visit the team Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/OCPSAR