Nonprofit intended to fly first responders to emergency scenes | SummitDaily.com

Nonprofit intended to fly first responders to emergency scenes

ROBERT ALLEN
summit daily news

A former Summit County resident is working to improve access for emergency first responders to scenes of backcountry rescues, wildfires and more.

Pilot Morgan Garvey said he’s acquired two Cessna 206 airplanes to begin operations with Disaster Air Response Teams, the nonprofit organization he directs.

“We can get these guys in on dirt roads or dirt strips anywhere and get them as close as possible,” he said, adding that it will offer quick, efficient transportation in contrast to responders driving on mountain roads.

Garvey, 44, said he’s been working on the program for about five years. Members of Summit County Rescue Group met with DARTS earlier this month in Kremmling to execute a training exercise and familiarization flight.

DARTS hasn’t executed any missions yet, but Garvey said he’s ready to “show people we’re not just a website.”

“My whole purpose for starting this thing goes back to 2001 when I was mixed up in a whole mass evacuation,” he said.

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He was flying from the East Coast to St. Louis on Sept. 11 when the terrorist strikes led to a grounding of all air traffic. He landed in Nashville.

Garvey, then about 35, tried to put his aviation skills to use in the military. But he was told he was too old.

A few years later Hurricane Katrina hit, and Garvey heard stories of emergency crews having trouble gaining access.

DARTS is his nonprofit effort to get those people in to local, state and national disaster areas expediently and safely.

He’s got a crew of 10 to 12 seasoned pilots.

“These aren’t newbies we’re putting in the cockpits,” he said, adding that most have military or commercial airline experience. “These guys are all volunteers.”

Garvey’s been working with the Colorado Search and Rescue Board and other organizations for cooperation.

He said he expects DARTS has a good chance of securing government contracts, as well.

“We can offer (the service) at a far less cost than competitors,” he said of his nonprofit.

He wants to get another plane just for photographic reconnaissance. Garvey said he intends to add many more planes over time to be able to handle big disasters.

From the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the U.S. Department of Defense, the Red Cross and more, he wants t be able to fly in personnel under a variety of scenarios.

Garvey now lives on the Front Range in Highlands Ranch, where he moved from Silverthorne for business purposes.

The DARTS website is http://www.darts911.org.

SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.