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Rob Loveberg is 17-year veteran of Search and Rescue

by Nancy Hamlett

Seventeen years is a long commitment. Seventeen years of being on call seven days a week, 24 hours a day could seem like an eternity. But for Rob Loveberg, The Record-Courier’s Unsung Hero for the month of October, the 17 years has been spent doing something he enjoys – helping the community.

“I really couldn’t tell you how many hours it has been. It’s not a figure I’d be interested in, and I’ve never looked at it that way,” said Loveberg. “I volunteer because it is what I want to do. The number of hours I spend doing it is irrelevant. I have a commitment to Search and Rescue. That’s all there is to it.”

Loveberg has wanted to do something like search and rescue since he was a youngster. Raised in eastern San Diego County, Calif., he grew up enjoying hiking and fishing, rock climbing and backcountry experiences, all of which go hand in hand with search and rescue operations.

“Whatever it was that started the interest, I knew I wanted to do something to help others,” said Loveberg. “While I lived in Carson City, I researched different organizations, including the Coast Guard, and decided upon Douglas County Search and Rescue.”

According to Ron Pierini, Douglas County sheriff, Search and Rescue is lucky to have Loveberg as a volunteer.

“I’ve known Rob for years, and I’ve always found him to be even tempered and always there when you need him,” said Pierini. “He is dedicated to Search and Rescue.”

Most unsung heroes are reluctant to talk about themselves, and Loveberg is no exception. He wards off any questions of a personal nature with a shake of the head.

“Search and Rescue does search and rescue, not Rob Loveberg,” he insisted. “Just because I’ve been doing this for 17 years doesn’t mean I can do it alone.”

Yet according to Lois Knudsen, president of Search and Rescue, Loveberg is qualified and able to perform any type of rescue they might encounter, and he is an invaluable member of the team.

“Rob has probably forgotten more than some of us know,” said Knudsen. “He is a great team player.”

Sheriff Pierini agrees. “Rob is one of the stabilizing forces of Search and Rescue,” he said. “He is always willing to help. As a matter of fact, during the 1997 flood, he was there helping as much as any other member of the community.”

One of the aspects of Search and Rescue that Loveberg finds rewarding is the concept that he works with a team.

“A lot of what we do isn’t obvious to the public,” said Loveberg. “But it is a team effort, not the individuals. All Search and Rescue membera are unique and caring. Without the rest of the team, there wouldn’t be any story in me, because nothing would happen.”

Seventeen years ago when Loveberg joined the organization, there wasn’t an established curriculum or training schedule. But now, as with all emergency work, there is more emphasis on training and training materials, and it has become necessary to have specific regulations and regimented training.

Loveberg has attended training and seminars on his own time, learning such varied and valuable search and rescue techniques as man-tracking, avalanche survival, technical rope and swift water rescue and search management. He is certified as an emergency medical technician basic and often serves as incident commander.

Again, Loveberg is quick to point out that he shouldn’t be singled out.

“Incident commander is nothing more than the manager of the specific incident,” said Loveberg. “It is usually one of the operations leaders, and a person with the most training and experience relative to the nature of the call.”

“It’s the team that performs the search or rescue. I don’t see myself as being different. or anything special. We work together and function as a team. I’m just a little cog in that organization. I’m not extraordinary or interesting. All of the team and all the team members should get the recognition.”

Loveberg owns his own company in Minden that provides planning and consulting services. He and his wife, Dublin Hart, live in Smith Valley with horses, dogs and cats for company. Luckily his wife enjoys outdoor activities as much as he does.

“I like a rural small town lifestyle,and our area,” said Loveberg. “The best of the outdoors is available locally, regionally and throughout the West. If it can be done outdoors, you can do it here.”

Yet the fact that this area is ripe for outdoor activities is one reason Loveberg and the Search and Rescue Team keep busy. Loveberg said that their efforts would be greatly enhanced if the public would follow a few common sense rules.

“I, for one, would love to see that we don’t need to perform because people are using safety precautions,” said Loveberg. “If you plan to go into the backcountry, or even out for a drive, be sure someone knows where you are going, when you will return and how you are traveling. Then, if there is a problem, there will be some information to go on for expediency.”

Serving the community,as part of a team is the reoccurring theme stressed constantly by Loveberg.

“I think I speak for everyone in Search and Rescue by saying that we do this because we enjoy doing it, to do something for the community as a member of the community and to give something back,” said Loveberg.

“I enjoy working and living in this atmosphere. If I help the community in whatever small manner I can by doing this, then that’s all the recognition I need.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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