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Routt County Search and Rescue offers tips to prepare for the worst

Routt County Search and Rescue members Dalton Reed, Dusty Atkinson and Rory Clow bring up a mock patient during a training exercise in 2014.
Matt Stensland

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s been a busy week for Routt County Search and Rescue. The organization has been called to rescue three individuals since June 25.

On Saturday, volunteers from Search and Rescue and the North Routt Fire Protection District were called to Hahn’s Peak to rescue a woman who broke her lower leg below the mountain’s summit. Last week, volunteers rescued a 15-year-old who suffered a head injury in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness and a woman who fell 35 feet down a slope near Fish Creek Falls.

Search and Rescue volunteer Kristia Check-Hill said the organization doesn’t have a busy season. The number of calls they receive fluctuates regardless of the time of year.

With three rescues in a week, she said “it seems super busy, but prior to that, we weren’t really busy, so it kind of just ebbs and flows.”

Be prepared

Accidents happen, but you can be prepared should you be lost or injured in the outdoors. Kristia Check-Hill offers these tips to help you be ready for the unexpected.

• Even if it is warm and sunny, take a jacket and be prepared for the weather to change.

• Carry a well-charged cellphone. Don’t drain the battery by using it to take photos, post to social media or for other functions that aren’t essential to your safety.

• Tell someone where you are going and when you intend to be back. If you plan to be gone for a long time, she said it’s a good idea to contact someone when you safely return.

• Always carry water with you.

• Call 911 to reach Search and Rescue as soon as you need help. Don’t wait for night to fall or bad weather to roll in.

So far, Check-Hill estimated Search and Rescue has responded to about 28 calls in 2018.

“Nobody ever goes out with the intent to get lost or get injured, obviously,” Check-Hill said. “Always think, ‘It might happen to me.’ You have to have that thought in your head.”

There are a few things to know to be prepared for the worst when enjoying the outdoors.

Getting help from Search and Rescue is free, so don’t hesitate to call 911 if you’re in trouble. You’ll have to pay for medical services once you’re out of the woods, such as an airlift or ambulance ride, but you won’t be charged to receive advice or be rescued by Search and Rescue volunteers.

Call Search and Rescue sooner rather than later. Check-Hill said she’d rather call off volunteers after a person who called for help was able to walk out on his or her own than to wait for night to fall before setting a search in motion.

“The sooner we can determine where you’re at and get to you, the better off you’re going to be,” Check-Hill said.

Carrying a well-charged cellphone will make getting help easier. If you’re not sure where you are, Search and Rescue can often pinpoint your location and help you navigate to where you want to be via a cellphone — no search required.

If you’re injured, a cellphone can connect you to life-saving medical advice. But it can only do these things if you have a battery that is adequately charged.

“Having that battery saved is really important,” said Check-Hill. “People don’t really think of that sometimes when they’re out there taking photos or doing whatever they do social media-wise. That zaps that battery pretty good.”

Check-Hill hopes adventurers keep the unanticipated in mind.

“Be prepared for any changes that might come up that you do not expect,” she said.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.


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