Part 1: NBC29 Looks Inside Virginia Search and Rescue

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When a person is reported missing in Virginia, every hour that passes is critical. No one knows that better than a stealth force of elite searchers. In a special two-part report, NBC29's Maria Hallas looks into Virginia's search and rescue operations.

Alexis Murphy and Waynesboro Police Reserve Captain Kevin Quick are two examples of the many people who go missing in Virginia every year.  Law enforcement officials across Virginia rely on Mark Eggman, Virginia Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinator, when a search effort gets tough.

“We are the oldest, most mature search and rescues in the country,” said Eggman.

Eggman gave NBC29 exclusive access to what he calls the best secret in Virginia - central command for emergency management, where the first call for help comes in.  “Once we get that call the first thing we will do is let the watch center know which teams are going to respond based on the nature of the request and if it is going to be two or three teams,” said Eggman.

Then Eggman or his deputy gives their statewide team of volunteers a briefing and find out who can search.  “What they will do then begin to call in and tell us their estimated time of arrival on scene,” said Eggman.

The Emergency Operations Center has the capability to coordinate every aspect from detailed monitors and nationwide integrated radio systems.

The main floor of the Richmond-based EOC allows agencies like the Virginia Department of Transportation and hazmat to coordinate with search and rescue in the event of a large-scale emergency.

Virginia has one of the top state SAR programs in the country.

“Virginia is incredibly organized. Virginia has a lot of great SAR professionals that work on their own time to develop a great system here,” said Lieutenant Colonel Clifton Hicks, National Search and Rescue.

For more information on Virginia Search and Rescue, click here.

Sunday, NBC29 will take a look at the individual volunteers who make up the scores of rescuers.

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