When someone goes missing in Austin, police call the department's Search and Rescue Team. The citizen volunteers also help homicide detectives look for evidence.
Once a month, the 11 members meet for outdoor training. They practice different methods of finding evidence or people. GPS is critical in these drills.
"It allows us to input coordinates and go to those locations or if they're doing a search and mark way points and find the evidence we are looking for, plot it on a map, and actually see where the searchers have been," said member Matthew McDermott.
The team has a dog as well. Ruby is nearly done with her training.
Every single member is a volunteer and doesn't cost taxpayers a dime.
"We are not a budget line item for the city of Austin," said Team Leader Matthew Olguin.
The Austin Police Department's Search and Rescue Unit formed back in 2002. While all the members are volunteers, a federal grant paid for all the equipment and a vehicle the team is still using.
Olguin has been a volunteer since the team's inception. But to pay the bills, he contracts with Dell and supports an internal website.
Olguin said he joined the search and rescue group after 9/11 to make a difference.
"The satisfaction of a family member knowing the status of their loved one whether deceased or not, knowing at night they can go to bed knowing where that person is, that gives me the satisfaction," said Olguin.
In late August, the team got a vehicle upgrade. An old ambulance was transformed into a "new" command center. During an incident, it's a good meeting place for detectives to go over data the team has found.
Also late summer, Olguin was recognized for his dedication with a Chief's Coin. A small token of gratitude for Olguin's nearly ten years of service.
The group is also interested in recruiting new members. Those interested should email email@example.com.