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They are the people you call when you're likely having one of the worst days of your life. Fortunately, the men and women of Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue are among the best in the country at making sure it turns out okay.
This month, the organization marks its 50th anniversary.
Frank Dallman has been there since day one.
He has seen just about everything – crashed rescue helicopters and the remains of parents and children lost and killed in the Cascades.
"That's not one of the better parts of the job, but it's an extremely important part," said Dallman.
Comprised in 1967, the Snohomish County unit was originally a few separate organizations made up of a few dozen loggers and mill workers. Today it has grown to more than 300 highly trained men and women who specialize in everything from tracking scents to water rescues to technical helicopter missions.
The Snohomish County volunteers conduct about 120 missions per year adding up to some 9,000 man-hours.
A few of them are also FEMA workers who will soon be assisting with the Texas floods.
Dallman started when he was just 17 years old. He said he'll never forget the first time he helped save a life – an injured hiker named Tim.
"We had gone as far as we could go with no sign of him," said Dallman. "I'll never forget this; I yelled his name at the top of my lungs and almost immediately I heard, 'I'm up here!' We called in the helicopter and got him out of there. It felt great."
It's what the Snohomish County volunteers do on a regular basis.
Colleague Kevin Andringa said the selflessness of 50-year veterans like Dallman is what sets this group apart.
"If you're here to jump out of a helicopter and be in the paper you're not going to last," said Andringa. "You're gonna find out it's just a lot of hard work, late at night, in terrible weather, tough terrain. It's just not a lot of fun and frankly not a lot of glory. That's why Frank is so great."
Dallman has never been in it for the glory. Half a century with the unit and he has no plans to retire. His only plans are to continue helping as many people as he can.
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