I had a conversation recently with an old and dear friend, Cynthia Shibley. She and I first met while I was in the Air Force, but after my enlistment, we lost touch... and I moved on. In the interim I had the opportunity to hone my skills as a search and rescue practitioner with the Alaska State Troopers, as the National Education Director for NASAR, and then in a five year stint with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In a short two year respite from SAR work, I was the Chief of Police for Nome, Alaska, but found myself back into SAR work as the Nevada State SAR Coordinator, where I am employed at the moment.
I had the opportunity to reconnect with Cynthia and her husband Dennis (also from my Air Force Days) two years ago, and after catching up on lives, families, and work, the conversation quickly rolled around to what I had been doing in the interim.
I digress…It’s really funny to think that whatever you do is pretty common, that there are thousands of people who must do what you do, and therefore, you think very little about it. “Why…, doesn’t everyone drop what they’re doing and immediately start looking for a missing person whom they’ve never met”? “Isn't it perfectly normal to take leave-time from your work, your family during holidays, your friends at a party, throw on some hideously bright clothing adorned with patches, and traipse around in the wilderness hoping to locate some lost idiot”? Well, apparently this behavior is completely unexplainable to just about everyone, but after telling Cynthia this was what I had been doing, she got it!
You see, Cynthia got it because she has the same sense of what matters in this world as just about every other SAR person I have ever met. She has compassion and a moral compass that runs true. It points her, and I , and every SAR professional in the direction to help others like a tractor beam on the Star Ship Enterprise. And when I told her about the work I had been doing regarding Virtual Search Planning, she simply said, “it figures you would be doing that”!
This was not a dismissal of the work, it was a confirmation of what was inevitable in my life. She and Dennis think I'm on to something (as opposed to being on something!) They have become believers, devoted fans, followers, what have you, and tell everyone they know about VSP. And they're no easy pushovers. Dennis has been a King County, Washington deputy for decades, while Cynthia has also served many years in Law Enforcement and has one of the most analytical minds I know. The understand this concept of a better way to find lost persons, and the building of a process that promises a faster solution. You could say that the whole body of work related to Virtual Search Planning has a single purpose: help others return to their families and lives. I am grateful we have been a part. But one of the things I am most grateful for is that I have found something I have missed for decades, old and dear friends, ...who still think I’m a bit crazy..., who love me for who I am. Everyone should be so lucky! So, to all of you, and especially to Cynthia and Dennis, thanks for all your support and love. Stay close!