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Mo. rescue crew turns to crowdsharing to buy boat

Newton County Rescue and Recovery is using GoFundMe with a $20,000 goal to purchase a 16-foot get boat and equipment


By Ines Kagubare
The Joplin Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — About twice a month, Newton County Rescue and Recovery is dispatched for a water rescue in the area, says Chris Sloan, an officer with the team.

Sometimes it's to save stranded animals, including cats and dogs. Sometimes it's to search for weapons, vehicles or stolen property.

Last spring, the team helped search for and recover the body of Brooke Robinson, 12, who drowned in Shoal Creek after she hit a tree branch and was swept off her float tube.

But those rescue efforts, often in severe conditions and high water, take a toll on the group's equipment. In turn, the group asks for the community's help with various fundraisers, including a more ambitious effort it is launching today.

The group has relied on traditional fundraisers to help pay for fuel, insurance and other operating costs. Pancakes to the Rescue on Oct. 14 raised $2,700. A fundraising breakfast a year earlier generated $1,600 for a tow-capable inflatable rescue board.

This time, the group is using the crowdfunding site GoFundMe, with the goal being $20,000, Sloan said. The GoFundMe page will be posted today on the team's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NewCoRescue/.

The money is for a 16-foot jet boat as well as equipment such as ropes, helmets and life jackets.

Newton County Rescue and Recovery currently has a jet boat, but it's old and the group is looking to replace it. The group also has two inflatables, but barbed wire fences can tear up inflatables.

"You can't fight the river, you kind of have to go with it sometimes, but with the jet boat you can go wherever," Sloan said.

A new jet boat, which is easier to navigate than inflatables, will help team members with their water rescues and diving operations during flooding, Sloan said.

The group, a volunteer search, rescue and recovery team, was formed in the late 1990s. It has about 25 volunteers, trained in diving and in swift-water rescues, and they work with local enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency medical responders.

"We basically exist to serve the public and make sure, especially in water rescues, that no one drowns," Sloan said.

The agency has collected nearly $10,000 per year through fundraising, and the money goes toward expenses such as repairs and replacements of old equipment as well as operating funds and insurance, Sloan said.

"We just want to thank the community for their support; they've always come out and helped us out," Sloan said.

The team is planning a chili-themed fundraiser in the spring at the Christ's Community United Methodist Church in Joplin.

Copyright 2017 The Joplin Globe

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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