COUER D'ALENE -

Basic survival skills can mean the difference between life and death for those enjoying the great outdoors and it's no different for Kootenai County Search and Rescue Crews.

Today nearly 25 people learned how to construct basic shelters, build a fire without accelerants and look for evidence the lost may have left behind.

"This gets them focused in on what to look for when they're walking around the woods that are a little out of the ordinary you know candy wrapper over her or a shoe over there," says Sargent Ryan Higgins of the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department.

The course began in the classroom, but today is the first time many of these crews have gotten to test their skills in the real world.

So what's the reward for all of this hard work? A hot meal at the end of the day.

Higgins says almost everybody's a volunteer. "They're hear on their own time, on their own dime." The crews purchase all of their own equipment, backpacks and fire gear.

The training will wrap up with a final test later this month, but the crews are just happy to get outside and help. "It's very rewarding for us to be able to do this and be there for the people in case they need it." He adds, "it's all done very willingly.

If you would like to donate to the Kootenai County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team simply call their office at 208-466-1300.