Search and Rescue seeks assistant to handle workload |

Search and Rescue seeks assistant to handle workload

Alexis DeLaCruz

Steamboat Springs — Routt County Search and Rescue Treasurer Kristia Check-Hill has a Friday tradition. — Routt County Search and Rescue Treasurer Kristia Check-Hill has a Friday tradition.

— Routt County Search and Rescue Treasurer Kristia Check-Hill has a Friday tradition.

Check-Hill, who has volunteered with Search and Rescue for six years and has served as the organization’s treasurer for two terms, spends between three and five hours every Friday afternoon sprawled across an office at the Search and Rescue Barn on Yampa Street filing paperwork, paying bills, writing reports, writing grants and managing finances for the completely volunteer organization.

Check-Hill said the time she spends preparing reports doubles in budget season and when grant reports are due.

“But I enjoy it,” she said Friday, cornered by a filing cabinet and tossing stacks of papers around.

Check-Hill might get a little reprieve from her overload of work, should Search and Rescue hire a part-time administrative assistant.

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On Tuesday, Search and Rescue President Randall Hannaway met with the Routt County Board of Commissioners to request about $7,800 to fill the position in 2008. The part-time person’s salary with benefits would amount to about $15,600, Hannaway said. The city of Steamboat Springs has agreed to contribute the other $7,800 to the agency during its budget process. Routt County already contributes about $35,700 to Search and Rescue from the county’s community services budget.

Hannaway said Search and Rescue needs someone to focus solely on the organization’s paperwork, submitting reports in a timely fashion and grant-writing efforts.

“As an all volunteer organization, one of the things that is taxing us is that we don’t have enough people dedicated to making sure our “Is” are dotted and our “Ts” are crossed,” he said. “We’re falling short because we don’t have the resources.”

Hannaway said older Search and Rescue members – who have been volunteers for years – are beginning to retire. New volunteers struggle to work multiple jobs while volunteering for missions and completing the intense, ongoing training required to stay with Search and Rescue.

Much less spend time filling out reports and writing grants.

There are currently 50 people who volunteer with Search and Rescue, Hannaway said.

On Tuesday, Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak jokingly called Search and Rescue volunteers “nuts” for what they do, but supported Hannaway’s request.

Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush agreed.

“I think this is a really important function,” she said.

‘Tis the season

Mitsch Bush asked Hannaway how the organization is doing overall and what kinds of calls it is dealing with.

During last week’s brief but brutal snowstorm, Search and Rescue was called to three missions in one night, including calls for missing hunters and a stranded vehicle.

“It’s the season,” Hannaway said. “It’s been a busy year across the state and the nation. A lot of teams are just getting pounded with some really tough stuff.”

In Routt County, Hannaway said calls for service are relatively steady, but the types of calls are changing.

“Our mission load is very consistent with the tourism of the area. It’s just that the calls we’re getting are much, much, more risky, much further into the backcountry,” he said.

Hannaway credits popular extreme recreation films and the need for thrills as a few reasons why people are constantly pushing their limits and consequently getting hurt or lost.

“Our team has to be much better than years past, because the risk associated is more,” he said. “I’m bracing for a heavier load in the next few years because of all the growth and the types of personalities that are attracted to this area. We have a disproportionate number of folks in town who will be needing our services.”

Hannaway said he is grateful for the support Search and Rescue receives from the community, Routt County and Steamboat Springs.

“We’re very blessed,” he said. “We very much appreciate what we have in this county. We’re fortunate, and we know that.”

By the numbers

Routt County Search and Rescue 2006 stats

56: Total number of missions completed in 2006

4,196: Total number of rescue mission hours

4,004: Training hours

64: Subjects rescued

29: Searches

24: Rescues

26: Technical rescues that required ropes, all-terrain vehicles or snowmobiles

0: Avalanche rescues

3: Recoveries

5: Missions outside primary service area

1: Missions where aircraft was used

19: Missions where medical aid was performed

Types of subjects assisted

15: Hikers

0: Climbers

6: Skiers

2: Snowboarders

14: Snowmachiners

6: All-terrain vehicle/ motorcycle

5: Mountain bikers

7: Hunters

2: Aircraft

0: Automobile

7: Other, including kayak, horse, suicide or camper

– Source: Routt County Search and Rescue

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