BARSTOW • The desert is a great place to get lost.
And when people get lost, they need a search and rescue team to find them — making Barstow an appropriate spot for the annual search and rescue school known as SAR City.
It its 38th year, SAR City USA brings search and rescue professionals from across the country to Barstow Community College for a weekend of classes on topics ranging from crime scene preservation to searching in the age of social networks.
For $100, anyone with an interest in search and rescue can attend a weekend of classes from top-notch instructors. With more than 100 instructors teaching 50 classes, there is something for everyone from the search and rescue novice to seasoned professionals.
"The classes are varied and they're not limited to people from the fire department, police, or search and rescue squads," said SAR City Coordinator Daryl Schendel. "Some classes are just fun and others are technical."
Barstow Search and Rescue Squad Team Commander Jim Riley said that there are classes at SAR City that outdoor enthusiasts in general can benefit from.
"There (are classes on) everything from desert survival to edible plants," said Riley. "There is a rattlesnake class where they bring in the snakes, a lot of other stuff that backpackers can use — how to use a map and compass, GPS classes — you can even get a ham radio license."
SAR City has its origins in a Jeep club that held a training event for its members over 40 years ago. The event was opened up to other organizations and the public to become what it is today — one of the largest training events for all things search and rescue.
"People come from all across the country — we've even seen people from Canada," said Schendel.
Schendel said that the school has a relatively high turnover — roughly 50 percent — which means that basic search and rescue classes can be brought back year after year in addition to new and more specified courses.
Anyone who wants to take a look at the latest search and rescue gear is also welcome to wander through the vendor area in the college — even those who are not registered for classes. A presentation by search and rescue expert Kimberly Kelly at 7 p.m. Saturday is also free and open to the general public.
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