Summit County commissioners proclaim June as Mountain Rescue Awareness Month |

Summit County commissioners proclaim June as Mountain Rescue Awareness Month

The Summit Board of County Commissioners proclaimed June as Mountain Rescue Awareness Month to recognize the efforts of the Summit County Rescue Group.

The Colorado Search and Rescue Association, which includes 46 teams throughout the state, responded to 4,052 calls last year. The Summit County Rescue Group receives between 100 and 200 requests for help annually.

“Given the increasing demand for backcountry rescue services that has arisen from the pandemic and more individuals seeking backcountry recreation, we felt it necessary to acknowledge and honor the men and women of our community whose diligence and professionalism help keep our citizens safe,” Commissioner Tamara Pogue said in a news release. “We hope that this will increase awareness of backcountry safety, particularly as we head into the summer season.”

The Summit County Rescue Group is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization operating under the statutory authority of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. The group has about 65 active members, including 11 mission coordinators. Last year, the group responded to more than 185 calls for service, and members typically donate a total of 7,000 to 10,000 hours each year for training and rescues.

In addition to traditional search and rescue operations, the group also occasionally responds to aircraft and highway motor vehicle accidents. Average missions typically run for a few hours, though they can extend overnight or even into multiple days for extractions in challenging terrain or if missing parties are difficult to locate.

“I’ve lived the search and rescue way of life for over 30 years, and I think I know a little about how fortunate Summit County is to have its volunteer backcountry search and rescue responders,” Colorado Search and Rescue Association President Jeff Sparhawk said in the release. “In my experience, I see few, if any, counties that have what you have in Summit. These are the type of people every community needs and wants.”

The Summit County Rescue Group is available 24 hours a day at no charge. All funding for the group comes from grants and donations.

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