Swamp Stomp gives people training for search and rescue missions

“It gives us an opportunity for everybody to come together, build on the training we learn and then actually put it to use.”
First responders and rescue professionals from across the Carolina’s and Virginia were in Pender County Saturday for Swamp Stomp.
Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 11:31 PM EST
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PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - First responders and rescue professionals from across the Carolina’s and Virginia were in Pender County Saturday for Swamp Stomp. This annual training event was created to sharpen skills of search and rescue personnel in the event of a lost or missing person.

Around 160 people came out to the Holly Shelter Game Lands for this training.

Assistant Chief David Dudding with Pender EMS and Fire said, “We put four to five people in the woods. These are trained search rescue professionals, we call them our rabbits, and we put them out, we give them all the supplies they need. And they’ll leave clues as they walk, they’ll go through trails. And that leaves us the opportunity to put search and rescue personnel out there to try to find them and they report back those clues as they actually come upon them.”

Holly Shelter Game Lands is the largest game land in the state of North Carolina so it gives them a large area to search.

The “lost” subjects are moving around constantly so the searchers may end up covering 10 to 15 miles a day.

“This exercise is a great opportunity for us to practice what we learn all the time,” Emergency Management Specialist of Pender County Sarah Taylor said. “[We] get together start a search operation like we would and then call in all these outside resources from all across the state.”

Multiple agencies throughout the state work together in a collaborative effort to get them out in the field and train and put their skills to the test.

“Should we ever have an event where somebody gets lost or missing in the woods. It gives us an opportunity for everybody to come together, build on the training we learn and then actually put it to use. So in the future,” Dudding said, “should we ever get the real call? These guys know what they’re doing.”

A Homeland Security state grant funded this event.