ALERT: A Londonderry Emergency Response Team

Dec 15, 2011 No Comments by

Londonderry Alert

ALERT was started by Dave Palmisano, a former Londonderry Rotary president, after the death of 3-year-old Dylan Drinan in September 2003. Dylan wandered away into wetlands, and while such a team would not have been able to save him, ALERT was formed in his memory.  ALERT’s mission is to maintain a trained, dedicated group of volunteers to: 1) assist our community and its public safety departments in times of need; 2)serve as a source for education about emergency preparedness and prevention; and 3) provide a valuable resource for the community through the continuous training and involvement of our members.

Londonderry Fire Department rescue Riemer in North LondonderryWith thousands of acres of Open Space for hiking and recreation this team gives the community an important tool for search and rescue.  ALERT has been called on to help at elections, Old Home Day, to man the local Shelter in times of trouble.  The have had numerous calls to assist Londonderry Police and Fire in the Musquash Conservation Area.  Years ago they took part in a rescue of a horse and rider in the swamps of North Londonderry.

An early morning call to ALERT from Captain John Wimsatt of New Hampshire Fish and Game set the ALERT team call tree into action on a cold Tuesday morning.

The call came into ALERT president Rich Semaski around 0635 on Tuesday December 13th. Captain Wimsatt requested ALERT muster a quick response search team to travel to Durham/Newmarket area to assist New Hampshire Fish and Game in search efforts to locate a missing hiker.

The information given by NH Fish and Game was to travel to, and stage at, a specified location off of route 108 and be bused into search location. The specifics were: An elderly hiker has been missing since late afternoon on the 12th and search efforts through the night have not been successful. More trained search teams/personnel are needed.

ALERT team members Jim Belanger, Remi Fortin and Al Benson were able to deploy, and traveled to the specified staging area to assist local fire and police. At approximately 1000 Hrs, the hiker was located by a State Police helicopter and search teams moved in and secured the missing man who was hypothermic, but generally in good health.

This request by NHF& G was another milestone for ALERT because it was the first such request for ALERT in an out of town (Londonderry) search in some time. This is in direct response to ALERT offering trained search help during the NH Fish and Game search for a young child in the Hampstead area.

ALERT continuously trains to maintain a level of readiness as to be available to State and local authorities in times of emergencies.

ALERT is a non-profit, 501(C) 3, organization that is sustained only by the dedication and commitment of its members.

Please go to if you would like to help ALERT.

Thanks to Keith Tharp a member of ALERT that assisted in writing this story.


About the author

Kathy is very active in Londonderry and the southern New Hampshire Region. A advocate for business growth and a passion for outstanding community services, she brings life to the phrase "Business is Good. Life is Better!" to Londonderry. Serving as the Old Home Day Chairman since 1999 she has been a Londonderry Town Councilor, Trustee of the Leach Library, is presently Chairman of the demolition delay committee and serves or has served on many local boards and commissions.
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