Gets Lots of Rescue Calls
Edwards can run searches from a fully equipped van
SYLMAR The pager
could go off at anytime of the day or night. A small aircraft or a hiker
is missing. Or, there is a confidential homeland security issue. When
those situations arise, the call often goes to Denise Edwards. As an incident
commander for the auxiliary of the United States Air Force Civil Air Patrol,
Edwards often plays a central role in such situations.
The most common kind of mission is missing aircraft and Ill
either run the mission, be on the air crew, or on the ground team,
Since 1992, Edwards has taught first aid, CPR, and accident prevention
in Mission Colleges child development, gerontology, and Community
A retired emergency room trauma nurse, Edwards has been involved in search
and rescue missions for 45 years, the last eight with the Civil Air Patrol.
As one of about 15 incident commanders statewide, she often runs search
efforts from a fully equipped command center in her home.
The work is completely
voluntary. And there are big searches and little ones. In 2003, Edwards
was on a team of about 100 searchers who scoured the Nevada desert for
parts from Space Shuttle Columbia, which broke-up in flight over the southwestern
United States. Edwards said they found debris that NASA scientists on
the team believed were part of the craft, but she never heard final confirmation
Edwards with team that searched for shuttle Columbia debris
[Photo courtesy of Denise Edwards]
In another incident,
Edwards volunteered to help search for a missing hiker in Kern County
after the active search was scaled back, distressing the family. Within
two days, the body of the hiker was found. It appeared he had died quickly
and of natural causes.
Later, the family invited Edwards to dinner and one of the children gave
her a card that said, Thank you for finding my grandpa. Recalling
the moment, Edwards said, That still brings tears to my eyes. This
is the reward; thats why Im in the search business.