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SLO County search-and-rescue team doesn't need more money, sheriff says

The Sheriff’s Department has rebuffed a grand jury report that says the county search-and-rescue team needs more money and should be allowed to hold fundraisers.

The department says “there is currently no funding deficiency,” and the team should not try to raise money independently because that could fragment a cohesive approach to funding that is now coordinated through the sheriff.

Furthermore, Sheriff Pat Hedges wrote in a report, the search-and-rescue team did not ask for money before speaking to the grand jury.

“Is anybody talking to anybody here?” asked Sheriff’s Department spokesman Rob Bryn.

It is clear from his response that Hedges felt blindsided by the grand jury report, whose description of the search-and-rescue team’s financial situation is at odds with Hedges’ view.

In its report, issued last month, the grand jury described the search-and-rescue team as understaffed and underfunded.

The county’s search-and-rescue team looks for missing people such as lost hikers or Alzheimer’s patients, provides medical help at the Oceano Dunes and helps with swift-water and off-road rescues.

The search-and-rescue team responded to 25 requests for assistance in 2008 and 17 in 2009.

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