The sound of a car horn punctuates the crisp October morning. “Jason’s here”, your 18 year-old son tells you as he makes a grab for his backpack. “I’ll be home in time for dinner”, he adds, giving you a quick hug around the shoulders. “Alright. Be careful”, you reply as Tim bolts eagerly out the door to join his friend for a hike around the Beaver Creek Loop. He’s a smart kid and has made the hike a few times before with his dad, so you really have no reason to worry.*
The day goes by quickly, but now the shadows are long as the sun slips behind the peaks to the west. Soon it is completely dark. Dinner is ready, but Tim and Jason have not yet returned. At first you feel slightly annoyed at their tardiness, but as the hours go by, you grow ever more concerned. Jason mother calls, also alarmed by the boys’ late return: Their cell phones goes unanswered, so neither of you have any idea what may have happened. You call 911. A little while later you are notified that the Sheriff’s Office has deployed Fremont Search and Rescue to assist in locating the two boys…
You may have seen them at one of the many Fremont County events including the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival and the Blossom Parade: The men and women in the blaze orange shirts providing support at numerous community events throughout the year. Or perhaps you’ve seen them somewhere around the county assisting with an emergency or training at the Royal Gorge or the Riverwalk.
Since 1967, members from your own community have volunteered to be available 24/7 when there is a need to locate or assist lost, injured or ill hikers, climbers, ATV and horseback riders, hunters, missing children, or individuals with dementia who may have wandered away from home. They assist with evacuations, searches, recoveries and provide aid in accordance with the Sheriff’s Office for other emergencies and events as needed. The team which comprises Fremont Search and Rescue are often your friends, co-workers and neighbors.
Every member of Fremont Search and Rescue gives freely of their time to train for missions and to provide help to others when the call goes out. They operate day or night in all weather conditions, from the blistering heat of summer to the frigid temperatures and snowfall of winter. They are prepared to take on Fremont County’s varied terrain, from the high altitude of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the cliffs of the Royal Gorge and Shelf Road and everything in between.
Search and Rescue members serve the residents of Fremont County, as well the thousands of people who visit the area each year to partake in its many recreational opportunities. The team also assists neighboring counties in situations where additional assistance is requested.
Individuals on the team devote many hours to acquiring the life-saving skills and knowledge necessary to provide safe and successful search and rescue operations. In 2014, the 25-30 member team donated upwards of 6,000 hours of their time in trainings, missions and community events.
Every person on the team is required to complete a minimum of three on-line FEMA Incident Command System courses and the National Association for Search and Rescue’s SARTECH II course and exam which includes land navigation. They must also have basic first aid and possess current CPR and AED certifications. Many members are certified Emergency Medical Responders or Wilderness First Responders, as well. Those in the position of Mission Leads are Managed Land Search Operations certified and have to complete additional ICS courses.
Individuals on specialized teams are certified for tracking, rope and swiftwater rescue, but they are all “ground-pounders”, during a search. All of the various certifications have to be kept current and renewed as necessary. Additionally, everyone is required to supply a personal “24 Hour Pack”, equipped with a vital array of rescue items, both for their own needs, as well as the needs of those they assist, while on a mission. It is also each individual’s responsibility to provide the field uniforms that are worn for missions and trainings.