Volunteer took search and rescue to another level

SNOHOMISH — Jennifer Stollwerck spent the past 15 years volunteering with Snohomish County Search &Rescue’s helicopter crew.

Before that, she volunteered for several years working ground missions, finding people who were missing or needed aid in the wilderness.

Two years ago, Snohomish County sheriff’s chief pilot Bill Quistorf and Sgt. Danny Wikstrom suggested something else: Why not learn to fly the bird?

Stollwerck, 35, of Mukilteo, loved the idea. She put herself through the Snohomish Flying Service school at Harvey Field and earned her private helicopter flying license.

She’s now working on the commercial license and hopes to finish before the month is out.

“It’s an excellent challenge, so it’s been fun,” she said.

Stollwerck also works full-time as a firefighter and paramedic with Snohomish County Fire District 1. She’s assigned to Fire Station 23, near Lake Serene.

Stollwerck is a strong team member for search and rescue because she’s driven by a desire to help people, Quistorf said.

She also can stay calm and make hard decisions in high-risk, fast-moving situations, he said.

Flying a rescue helicopter is demanding, Quistorf said. Their missions take them into mountain ranges, and they often have to hover at fixed points.

“She’s really excelled at all that,” he said. “She has far surpassed what we expected out of her to be so far along in her piloting skills.”

As a pilot, Stollwerck already will know what it’s like for the crews on the ground because she’s been there, Wikstrom said. She brings a “tremendous wealth of knowledge” about operations, he said.

Stollwerck also loves the adrenaline rush and working with a team dedicated to the mission of saving others.

“I’m amazed at how many good hearts are out there, and in this field,” she said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

Search &Rescue

Snohomish County Search &Rescue is a private nonprofit that works closely with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. The team is made up of about 300 volunteers and headquartered at Taylor’s Landing in Snohomish.

More info: www.scvsar.org

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