Gov. Norm Bangerter welcomed about 800 National Association for Search and Rescue members to Salt Lake City on Wednesday, commending their work and their spirit of voluntarism.

About 80 percent of the organization's members are volunteers. "In Utah we're proud of voluntarism," Bangerter said. "Voluntarism significantly affects the quality of life in our communities, in our state and in our nation. It's a tradition that, to a large extent, shapes the participatory democracy that we enjoy in America today."Bangerter cited the recent assistance Summit County search and rescue personnel provided in securing the perimeter of the command post at the Singer-Swapp standoff in Marion. "They also provided necessary supplies during that incident."

The national organization has its roots in Utah, founded here in 1972. "We do have a great mountainous terrain," Bangerter said. "It's beautiful here, but our natural beauty can also be extremely dangerous. Your colleagues in Utah have ample opportunity to utilize their training," he said, complimenting the state's search and rescue personnel. "They have spared many individuals and families the heartache of serious death or injury."

The annual training conference continues through Sunday and is being attended by search and rescue workers from around the nation and from several foreign countries.

Local conference faculty members include D. Douglas Bodrero, assistant Utah public safety director; Dr. Robert Bolte, co-director of Primary Children's Medical Center's emergency services; Ralph Brown, a helicopter paramedic for LDS Hospital; Dr. Jeff Clawson, fire surgeon for the Salt Lake City Fire Department; David B. Lehnhof, an emergency medical technician and faculty member and adjunct faculty member at Weber State College, the National Fire Academy and associate instructor at the University of Utah.