Local fundraiser nets Search & Rescue life-saving equipment | SteamboatToday.com

Local fundraiser nets Search & Rescue life-saving equipment

Mark Louden/Steamboat Today

— Using money it gathered at a community sponsored fund-raiser, the local search and rescue team has purchased equipment that will help save lives.

"Community support for search and rescue has been tremendous. We are very grateful that people realize how hard our volunteers work to provide search and rescue services to Routt County," said Joe Stevens, president of Routt County Search and Rescue.

At a silent auction for the team at the Steamboat Brewery and Tavern in September, local businesses donated prizes and raised approximately $8,000. The team recently used the money to purchase a vehicle at a U.S. Forest Service auction, as well as a portable satellite phone.

Stevens said the vehicle, a 1985 GM Suburban, capable of transporting eight passengers, will allow team members to leave their personal vehicles at home and get to trailheads – as a team – quicker.

"We feel we got a great deal for our money," he said. "Having this vehicle means that our members don't have to drive their personal vehicles, which has been the case in the past."

Before buying the Suburban, search and rescue used a truck and a bus to respond to emergencies. Because the truck is only capable of carrying three people and the bus is less than a fast-response vehicle, many team members were forced to drive their own vehicles to response sites. Stevens said that often resulted in 10 or 12 vehicles at trailheads. Now, however, with the Suburban stationed at the Steamboat Springs ambulance barn – up to eight search and rescue team members will be able to pile in and head quickly to emergencies.

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Several members are customizing the vehicle with lights and a roof rack.

In addition to the Suburban, search and rescue bought a satellite phone it has been trying out in recent months. Stevens said the phone proved itself a 'vital link' in the communications chain for the team during the third rifle season.

"We have had the use of a satellite phone at no charge for about six months," Stevens said. "We found it to be critically important when we are searching in the remote areas in our county, where satellite service and two-way radio communication is poor. The sat phone has given us communication with the dispatch center and other resources where we had no other way of communicating.

The money raised at the local fund-raiser isn't the only contribution one of the top search and rescue teams in Colorado will be spending in 1996,

Earlier this year, Routt County Search and Rescue was awarded a $13,610 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Search and Rescue fund.

The money was used to replace outdated equipment and upgarde technical gear. Computer maps of the county, two-way radios, and safety equipment such as helmets, harnesses, and avalanche beacons were purchased with the state money.

The department of local affairs search and rescue fund reimburses teams for their mission expenses if the person involved in a rescue has a Colorado hunting or fishing license or a conservation permit. Those persons, along with registered owners of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, contribute 25 cents when they purchase their licenses, permits and registration. Each year, the department of local affairs makes excess money from the fund available to search and rescue teams throughout the state.