…Of Central MA Search and Rescue
By Kimberly Dunbar

There are heroes everywhere we look. They are our firefighters, police officers, teachers, and parents. But there is one place Worcester residents might not have known to look: in the Central Massachusetts Search and Rescue Team (CMSART).

Mike Foster is a real estate and property manager by day and volunteers for CMSART in his free time. Foster is as the organization’s Vice President, which is one of the many different capacities he has served in over his 14 years with the organization. Foster’s love for the outdoors is what drew him to join the team. “This is a nice way to contribute and utilize my skills to help others,” said the Worcester born and bred Foster.

cmsart.jpgCMSART is a ground division of Search and Rescue. “There are certain tactics you use to find people on the ground,” said Foster. “To maximize the man power we conduct grid searches which are planned out ahead of time. There is a lot more involved in search and rescues than people may think,” he added. Foster emphasized the team aspect of the organization, saying that there are so many people involved on many different levels during a search.

CMSART was founded in 1992 by Ron Bruchmann, who worked in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Management (now the Department of Conservation and Recreation) to create a task force to find missing persons on state property. The task force expanded into a team that now works not just on state property, but everywhere throughout New England.

The only requirement necessary to join the team is to be at least 18 years of age. While previous experience or outdoor skills help, Foster said each new member is thoroughly trained with everything he or she needs to know. “There are many critical skills that we try to teach in training and we make sure everyone is familiar with before they go out on a search,” said Foster. These skills include first aid, patient assistance and field problem solving. Every month CMSART holds a training exercise in MA to focus on a single aspect of search and rescue. “The most important thing we do is to make sure that everyone knows how to work together as a team,” he added.

Basic training for CMSART takes about 32 hours, but the time commitment to the organization can vary. “We can get called at any time. Sometimes we can go months without a call, but can also get called several days in a row,” said Foster. Members like Foster also donate time to public speaking engagements as well as to planning and management of the organization.

Foster said that one of the hardest parts of the job is that you never know what you will run into. “Sometimes the search is a recovery, and that is always sad,” he said. One of his most memorable experiences was the search for Molly Bish. The team was involved in the initial search and Foster was there when the missing Warren girl’s remains were found. “Not all of the missions are going to turn out the way we want,” he added.

Foster enjoys many aspects of the job, but especially values the people he has met along the way. “I have a lot of respect for people who do what we do,” he said. “It is a tremendous feeling to help someone.”

CMSART is always looking for new members. If you are interested in joining the organization, log onto their website www.cmsart.org for more information or to download an application.