Sheriff Seabolt and staff reviewed the proposal and authorized the formation of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office Disaster Assistance Response Team.
The Randolph County Sheriff’s Office Disaster Assistance Response Team, referred to as DART, is a group of 13 sworn deputy slots (twelve deputies currently active) from various different divisions of the Sheriff’s Office that each bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team and they VOLUNTEER to serve on the team. Team members have training and experience in search and rescue, man-tracking, land navigation, emergency first-aid, and many other areas of specialized training that have prepared them to help, serve and protect the citizens of Randolph County in disaster assistance. Randolph County Sheriff’s Office is one of only three law enforcement agencies in North Carolina to have sworn officers with this level of training, formally certified and prepared to provide disaster relief and assistance to Randolph County, as well as other areas of the state or country upon request.
DART’s first mission was to assist Ash-Rand Search and Rescue in locating a missing elderly female with dementia that had walked away from her home. Their first large scale call-out was to assist in locating a missing aircraft that crashed on October 4, 2019. DART is being called upon more and more as time progresses. Since the formation of DART, members have been called upon to respond to 38 incidents to date. DART members are prepared to respond to disasters such as bomb explosions, terrorism and arson, as well as natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and fires. A strong law enforcement presence in any of these situations helps ease fears and prevent others from exploiting communities during times of disaster. These deputies are poised to go house to house searching for the injured, to recover bodies or identify those who need assistance. DART members can offer transportation, emergency medical care and act as a liaison between citizens and rescue personnel. In disaster areas, the team will set up a security perimeter to restrict unauthorized persons. This team warns people when any other emergency situation may become an immediate threat to safety and welfare. Many disasters cause failures in infrastructures such as electricity and water systems, and unsafe travel for conditions for automobiles and pedestrians. The team can assist in obtaining resources and re-supply stranded citizens until they can be properly and safely evacuated from disaster areas.
DART members will close unsafe roads where downed wires, trees or flood situations might make travel unsafe. Disaster situations often lead to family members being separated. Elderly and those living alone are at higher risk if they have no one to check on them. If these citizens are unaware of what the current situations are around them, problems may result. DART members can set up search teams and put together systems where loved ones can check-in. The DART can set up reunification centers where victims and family can meet during and after disaster. They are trained to work with emergency personnel to list the various medical facilities used for treating sick or injured people. When people are evacuated from homes or neighborhoods, houses are unsupervised and opportunities to commit crime may be rampant; leaving them susceptible to those who take advantage of a chaotic situation. Law enforcement presence deters looting, vandalism and theft. If looting does occur, DART members are prepared to investigate and apprehend suspects. Most of all, DART members are deployed to restore a peace and order to communities in the midst of a traumatic event.
The DART was previously deployed to provide assistance to the Scotland and New Hanover County Sheriff’s Offices during Hurricane Florence. In 2019, the DART was utilized in the search and location of the plane crash in Randolph County and maintained scene security during the investigation. They recently assisted Richmond County with locating a missing person. Members are regularly used by the Sheriff’s Office when searching for evidence in homicide cases, attempting to locate missing persons and providing security and surveillance during public protests and events.
DART is one of only four law enforcement teams in the state (including Catawba, Lenoir, and Cumberland County Sheriff’s Offices) with a formally trained team and the only law enforcement team with the North Carolina Emergency Management 8100 Land Search certification. This NCEM 8100 certification is a North Carolina Emergency Management certificate that is recognized nationally due to the standards being in line with the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR). Each of those Sheriff’s Offices have one to two employees that hold this certification but according to Randolph County Emergency Management, Randolph County Sheriff’s Office is the first to have a fully certified team of 12 (alternate not certified); not just one or two that work with other teams on a search.
To see our list of other accomplishments: https://nc-randolphcounty.civicplus.com/280/Sheriffs-Office