Rescue group gets high marks in mock rescues
SUMMIT COUNTY – Forty-five members of the Summit County Rescue Group spent the weekend climbing up steep snow chutes, digging for avalanche victims and helping climbers down from high perches.
It wasn’t so much a busy rescue weekend as it was a test to retain the group’s reaccreditation with the Rocky Mountain Region of the national Mountain Rescue Association (MRA). MRA members must recertify every five years to maintain their standards in the organization.
The Summit team went through five tests, all of which were observed by a group of peers from 12 other MRA teams from Colorado and New Mexico. And they passed with flying colors.
“If you must get lost or injured in the backcountry, we suggest you do it in Summit County,” said group leader Glen Kraatz.
The teams started out Saturday when they were called to evacuate an injured climber from a cliff near Loveland Pass. Rescuers had to lower the patient down a steep snow chute.
From there, they responded to a pretend avalanche where they were able to find the two buried victims – both wearing beacons – within four minutes. A third victim, without a beacon, was eventually found under 7 feet of snow.
The group then moved to Prospector Campground off Swan Mountain Road for an exercise that included a search for a 65-year-old diabetic fisherman who had disappeared five hours earlier. Six teams sought clues and tracks before finding the man within an hour and a half.
The following day, the team was “paged” to Tenmile Canyon, where two climbers were in trouble in an area known as White Cliff. The teams climbed to the top of the cliff and lowered one of the stranded climbers.
The second, more seriously injured climber was lowered to midcliff to another rescuer who lowered him to the waiting ambulance.
The team then was summoned to a call from a curiosity seeker who had climbed up the cliff and injured his leg. The team lowered him nearly 800 feet through the woods, down loose rock and dirt, to a flat area near the highway.
Rescue group training director Brian Taylor said the tests went well because the team trains every week and many members have attended outside avalanche, rescue, rigging and medical care trainings and classes.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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