A world renowned instructor-trainer in search and rescue shared some of her knowledge Sunday, May 10, with the Van Buren County Rescue Squad.

Susan J. Thrasher is a life member of NASAR and has authored textbooks on the subject. She teaches classes all over the United States and overseas, including Cuba, Costa Rica, Argentina and Venezuela. She serves as an instructor-trainer on river rescue courses for the Fire Services of Panama and Costa Rica. She is an International Cave Rescue Instructor and an NSS-CDS Cave Diver. Thrasher makes her home and works in the Bentonville, Arkansas, area.

For the May 10 training, Thrasher conducted a class-room map and compass training for the Rescue Squad in the morning. This session taught how to read quadrangle maps, how to locate specific locations on the map. Then the class was taught how to use a simple compass to use with the map. Instructions were given on how to read the compass and how to use the compass to get to a specific point.

After lunch, provided by the Office of Emergency Management, participants got to test their class room skills in a practical exercise in a wooded area near the Van Buren County Jail. The use of map and compass in this digital age with GPS units and other electronic devices begs the question of what is the point in learning the map and compass method. Some things to consider are: What if there was no electricity to charge your GPS? What if the cell phone towers were down? What if there was cloud cover to the point GPS would not work? The compass and map is a fool proof method of finding a given point.

Additional attendees included Van Buren County sheriff’s deputies, Arkansas Game and Fish officers, Arkansas Highway Department employees, Office of Emergency Management, firefighters from Alread, Fairfield Bay, Chimes and Choctaw. The team members found out that they could read a compass to find a given point, then move from that point to another point to complete the course. They also found out the cold winter weather did not deplete the tick population in the Van Buren County woods.