Connecting with new guys on SAR

The last two months have been quite busy for my search and rescue team and after several very long hikes with a heavier-than-usual pack, my knee has really been bothering me. I took myself to the doctor and got an MRI, but there are no tears to the ligaments or meniscus. So I’m doing PT… and I’m not fielding with SAR. Hiking right now is just not an option and it’s weird. But it’s also good.

A few weeks ago I skipped out on a technical training with the main team that involved a hike with extra gear that I knew I wasn’t up to. Instead I went to the training for some of our new recruits and got to interact personally with some of the new guys. And I say guys because, except for one woman, they’re all men. Twenty of them.

It’s no secret on the team that I’m vocally supportive of having women on our team, but I sometimes wonder if my teammates know why. It’s not simply because I’m a woman and want to see other women involved. I have always been “one of the guys” and am quite comfortable even when I’m the only woman who shows up on a mission or for a training. But I have seen the difference that women can bring to the team, most notably a reminder that sometimes our subjects are going to be women. We also tend to approach problems differently — not being able to just muscle through things.

So here I am, surrounded by a bunch of new guys, physically limited by my knee injury but not limited in being able to reach out and teach. And it has been great, because I’ve had the chance to make sure that all of these guys know that the women on the team are amazing. And that we know our stuff. And that we are equal to the men on the team. And that if they aren’t down with that, they’re welcome to leave. So far no one’s leaving. Instead some of them have requested us to mentor them. And they’ve turned to us with questions and introduced us to their wives and nodded along with us when we’ve encouraged said wives to join the team too. I don’t know if we just got lucky and I don’t really care. So far we’ve been respected and even though I can’t go in the field right now, I’m going to stay as involved as possible so we women aren’t forgotten.