The concept of a statewide organization dedicated to facilitating training and interactions between governmental and volunteer civilian Search & Rescue organizations was brought into existence in November of 1992 in Sitka, AK. F/Sgt. Paul Burke, then Statewide S.A.R Coordinator, approached a group of attendees of the “Managing the Search Operations” course sponsored by Emergency Response, Inc. with his vision.
The idea was considered a good one, by the attendee’s, and the Alaska Search and Rescue Association was created. The original patch was designed and purchased with Public Safety funds and membership applications were distributed. The articles of incorporation were drawn up with the assistance of an Attorney in Anchorage, as were the by-laws, and submitted to the state and federal government to obtain non-profit status. The Association lasted a little over a year, and then became dormant due to a lack of participation and interest within both the volunteer and governmental communities, and subsequently seized to exist.
In mid Oct of 2004, one of the original attendees of the meeting in Sitka, Lt. Craig Macdonald, who was now the Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) statewide SAR coordinator, stood up at a statewide SAR conference being sponsored by DPS in Girdwood, Alaska.
He proposed the re-constitution of ASARA and spoke of his beliefs of the importance of a statewide association that would allow the vast knowledge base of volunteer SAR professionals and the Governmental agencies that were involved in SAR to interact, conduct training, and facilitate a more cohesive response to Search and Rescue in the state of Alaska. A majority of the attendees signed a list indicating their interest in this process, and Lt. Macdonald began researching and working toward the re-birth of ASARA.
The original Lawyer in Anchorage was contacted and Lt. Macdonald obtained the original by-laws and articles of incorporation and started the process of bringing the association back on line. At the same time Chuck Springer approached Senator Stevens’s office and obtained a $200,000 one time grant for search and rescue. The funds were required to be handled through DPS and used only for volunteer search and rescue training. Together, Lt. Macdonald and Chuck Springer organized the needed paperwork and fiscal tracking process and called a meeting via a statewide teleconference and ASARA was reborn with Chuck Springer elected as the first President under the new by-laws.