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Providing assistance and rescue at the fair


A group of volunteers who help find and help people who are lost or injured spend every Great Northern Fair helping the fair board and fairgoers.

“What we do primarily is basic first aid, and other than that we help the fair board with informing the fairgoers,” Hill County Search and Rescue Volunteer Perry Atchison said.

Hill County Search and Rescue is a volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to providing search and rescue as needed and training to requesting agencies or people.

The Great Northern Fair is the biggest fundraiser not only for the fair board, but also for Hill County Search and Rescue.

The board pays Search and Rescue to provide security and assistance at the fair.

“We do our best to enforce the fair board’s rules,” Atchison said.

A big change that was added to this year’s fair was allowing dogs onto the fairgrounds as long as the dogs were on a leash. Search and Rescue volunteers were used to make sure each dog was on a leash at all times.

Another fairly new twist this year was wristbands for children

“Our wristbands are another program we are doing this year for small children that may not be verbal or (may be) very shy. As they come in, we write down the parent’s name and contact information, so that if the child gets lost or if someone finds the child, other than us, they can call the number,” Atchison said, adding, “It has been a very successful program.”

Atchison added, in the security office building on the fairgrounds they provide a place for peple who want to get out of the heat with air conditioning, bottled water, basic first aid or just a place to provide information.

Compared to last year, despite warmer temperatures then, Atchison said Friday afternoon that this year’s turnout had been rather slow. Toward the evenings was when the expected big crowds to start to come out.

Atchison emailed this morning a summary of this year’s work at the fair by Search and Rescue.

He said lost and found activity was down considerably, with a total of 16 items or people. Lost and found articles were turned in at the fair office.

“Our free wrist bands again were instrumental in helping lessening the time it took to find parents.,” he said.

Atchison said the first aid needed was average but serious instances were down this year, although one ankle injury was forwarded to the hospital. It also included minor cuts and abrasions and mobility assistance. Total requests for the duration of the fair was 29.

Dog issues were down considerably due to the new rule the fair board instituted allowing dogs on leashes on the fairgrounds, he said, with only three issues occurred during the duration of the fair.

Atchison said Search and Rescue also works with law enforcement when needed.

“Thankfully, this year continued a very low trend of 11 issues for the duration of the fair,” he said.

But, he said, assists were more than double the average due to the change in fair office location and minor non-first aid issues that came up. That included giving directions, information on attractions or shows, and non-first aid mobility assistance. The total assists for the duration of the fair came to 190, Atchison said.

If people would like to learn more about Hill County Search and Rescue, their meetings are on the third Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at Hill County Detention Center.


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