Grand County Search and Rescue

GCSAR is made up of volunteers with one goal- helping lost or injured people in our mountains/rivers, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. GCSAR does not charge for any services. Your financial gift will go directly towards much needed equipment upgrades, mission expenses, gear, and training expenses.

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Preventative Search and Rescue Activities

Class

Public, Society Benefit 

Beneficiaries

General population

Description

Grand County Search and Rescue performs public outreach activities to help educate residents and visitors about proper preparation for and the hazards of our mountain and river recreational environment, to help avoid unnecessary risk and harm that will require rescue. Funds donated to this program will be used for community outreach activities, as well as the costs of our primary function- search and rescue activities, including the costs of mission response, medical gear, training, and team equipment and vehicles. What follows are a couple of our preventatives activities as a sample of our outreach programs.

Mountain Rescue Column in local newspaper- Every other week, Grand County Search and Rescue provides an educational column to the local newspaper to assist locals and visitors be more prepared to recreate in our backcountry. Topics have included what to carry in your day pack, how to read a compass, GPS and map, how to call or signal for help where there is no cell reception, and providing basic medical care until help arrives.

Hug-A-Tree program- Volunteer members visit the local elementary schools to present the Hug-A-Tree and Survival Program to children between the ages of 7 and 11. This program teaches the children basic, age appropriate survival skills, such as how to avoid getting lost in the first place, how to survive in the backcountry should they become lost, and how to help be found by staying put and "Hug a Tree." These same lessons remain relevant throughout their life.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Recently when the local newspaper went through a change in editors, a survey was circulated through its website asking the public to weigh in on which columns the public desired to see kept, and the mountain rescue column was chosen by the local readers as a column that they found valuable, informative and important to keep.

Search for missing or lost persons

Class

Public Safety, Disaster Services 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
Aging, Elderly, Senior Citizens
At-Risk Populations
General population

Description

Grand County Search and Rescue responds to reports of lost, overdue, or missing persons in the backcountry. Volunteer members and Incident Commanders are trained in the techniques and concepts of effective search management, probability assessment, applying SAR resources, preplanning, determining search urgency, lost subject behavior, search area segmentation, probabilities of detection, and search theory. Funds donated to this program will be used towards training costs, equipment and vehicle costs, medical costs, and mission response costs. Funds donated to this program will be used towards the costs of team gear, mission response vehicles and equipment, training, medical supplies, and mission response.


Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Search techniques are used in almost every mission to some degree, and in our mountain wilderness and river environment, an unprepared person lost in the backcountry can quickly find him- or herself in an emergency situation. Grand County Search and Rescue responds to calls for missing or injured persons at all times of the day, in all types of weather.

This is only a small sampling:

In September, 2016, GCSAR responded to a report of a missing 65 year old hiker in the Byers Peak Wilderness. The overdue hiker went on a day hike with almost no supplies, and it was now entering the second night when the report was made. GCSAR sent multiple teams into the field, located the hiker, provided medical assessment, and led him out to safety.

In January, 2017, Grand County Search and Rescue responded to a call of 3 overdue snowmobiles. The call came in late at night. GSCAR sent volunteers into the field on snowmobiles, who located the overdue snowmobilers who had separated from each other. GCSAR team members helped the overdue snowmobilers dig their sleds out of the snow and escorted them out.

In February 2016, GCSAR responded to a nighttime report of an overdue 70-year-old snowshoer. GCSAR sent multiple teams into the field, who located the lost person, performed a medical assessment, and escorted the person to safety.

In May, 2005, GCSAR responded to a report of a missing autistic child that had wandered away from her parents' campsite. GCSAR dispatched multiple teams into the field, who searched for the child all night. Hampering the search, the child had been taught "stranger danger" and hid from rescuers looking for her. The child was located safe the next morning with morning light.

In July, 2016, GCSAR responded to a report of a lost kayaker. The lost person had camped along side the Colorado River with friends. The friends went to gather firewood, and could not locate the missing person when they returned to camp. After 2 days of searching, the missing person was located in the river. it is believed he fell into the river and hit his head, instantly killing him. While the volunteers of GCSAR work and hope to have successful missions each time, it is incredibly important to the families of those lost that their loved one is recovered.


First responder mountain medical assessment, treatment and evacuation

Class

Public Safety, Disaster Services 

Beneficiaries

Disabled
General population
People/Families of People with Health Conditions
People/Families with of People with Developmental Disabilities
People/Families with of People with Physical Disabilities

Description

As the first responders to persons injured in the backcountry, Grand County Search and Rescue volunteers are trained to perform medical emergencies assessments, to provide appropriate treatment in preparing the injured person for evacuation, from airway management to CPR, spinal cord immobilization, treatment of environmental illnesses and injuries, splinting, litter transport, and helicopter evacuation protocols. Funds donated to this program will be applied towards the costs of obtaining transport and evacuation equipment and vehicles, medical supplies and equipment, and training.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

All missions of Grand County Search and Rescue involve at the very least a medical assessment, and many involve providing wilderness first aid. This is just a small sample of the variety of medical missions we encounter: In August, 2017, GCSAR responded to a mutual aid call with Rocky Mountain National Park personnel regarding a person who fell over a water fall and suffered multiple serious injuries, including a crushed pelvis. GCSAR fielded multiple teams, provided medical care, splinted the person's pelvis, and extricated the injured person down and through the river to an accessible shoreline for ground litter transport out to the trailhead.
In July, 2017 GCSAR volunteers responded to a developmental disabled 15-year-old suffering from breathing difficulty. The reporting party described the symptoms as partly emotional and partly medical. GCSAR observed the person to be suffering from difficult breathing, congestion, and exhaustion, and through medical assessment survey, learned the party had camped overnight at a higher altitude and had shown symptoms consistent with High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. GCSAR provided oxygen to the person and evacuated him to more definitive medical care. 
In September, 2016, GCSAR volunteers responded to a report of a 54-yeariold person who fell while mountain biking. GCSAR volunteers assessed the person as suffering from upper back and possible neck injuries, packaged the person in an immobilization vacuum splint and evacuated the person via litter to a waiting ambulance. In June, 2016, GCSAR volunteers responded to a report of a person who fell while hiking. GCSAR assessed the person as having suffered a hip injury, packaged the person for transport and evacuated the person.
In February, 2016, GCSAR volunteers responded to a report of a backcountry skier who fell after doing a front flip, lost his skis, and impacted a tree. GCSAR assessed the person as suffering from a fractured femur and applied a traction splint to the injured leg, packaged the person for transport, and evacuated the person to a waiting ambulance.

Technical Rescue

Class

Animal-Related 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
At-Risk Populations
Families
General population

Description

Grand County Search and Rescue volunteers are training in the principals of critical thinking and systems analysis necessary for safe technical (rope) rescue situations, and the application of technical rescue, including litter rigging and handling techniques; patient packaging strategies; physics principles in rope rescue; rescue belay devices and techniques; efficient and effective raising and lowering systems; simple, mechanical advantage systems; high- and low-angle and snow rescue techniques; knots; and anchors. Funds donated to this program will be used towards the costs of training, team equipment and gear, and mission response.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

GCSAR routinely uses technical rescue techniques in patient transports, as our evacuations routinely take us over terrain with slopes of 30 degrees or greater, from scree, steep scree, snow, to vertical and high angle. This is just a sample of the types of technical missions we encounter:

In October 2017, GCSAR volunteers responded to a mutual aid call to assist a 78-year-old that had driven over a cliff. The seriously injured driver was extricated from the vehicle, medically assessed, packaged for transport and placed in a litter for a 400' up-haul to the waiting ambulance. Similarly, in October 2016, GCSAR volunteers responded to a mutual aid call to assist another driver that had gone down an embankment. This rescue also required the employment of an up-haul system.

In August 2015, GCSAR volunteers responded to a call involving a rafter who suffered head and face trauma in the Upper Gore Canyon. A technical up-haul was required to transport the rafter to nearby train tracks for evacuation.

In May 2015, GCSAR volunteers responded to a report of a snowshoer on Mt. Flora who had become disoriented during whiteout conditions and strayed onto a cornice. The cornice collapsed under him, sending him falling 20' and stranding him on a ledge. GCSAR teams used a rope belay to safely extract the snowshoer from his precarious perch.

In May, 2015, GCSAR volunteers responded to a report of a skier injured during an avalanche on Berthoud Pass. Once on scene, our team learned that two skiers were caught and partially buried in the slide, with one person being injured and not mobile. Their ski party was able to unbury the slide victims, but was not able to transport out their injured party. Our team volunteers responded to the scene, provided medical assessment and care, and evacuated the injured party on a toboggan, which required the use of two technical (rope) lowers due to steep terrain. 

Sponsor a Hero

Class

Public Safety, Disaster Services 

Beneficiaries

General population
Poor, Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent

Description

This is specifically to provide SAR members with the necessary personal equipment that they need. Your donation will go directly towards individuals on the team, helping them with necessary clothing and equipment. This also allows new members to come on to the team, even if they are unable to afford personal items that are necessary to perform SAR.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

This is a new program to allow donors to contribute directly to team members to ensure that they have the proper gear.

Avalanche Rescue

Class

Public Safety, Disaster Services 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
Children (4-12 years)
General population
Young Adults (20-25 years)

Description

Grand County Search and Rescue members respond to avalanches with reported burials. Avalanches occur naturally or due to human action during alpine or cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing. Our volunteer members are trained in avalanche scene safety and risk management, search theory and strategy, single and multiple burial rescues, beacon use, probing techniques, digging techniques, avalanche victim extrication, medical care of avalanche victim, avalanche dog use, RECCO use, helicopter operations, avalanche terrain recognition, and techniques to safely travel in avalanche terrain. Funds donated to this program will be used to support costs of avalanche training, avalanche search equipment, avalanche safety equipment, medical equipment, and rescue vehicles or equipment.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Avalanche training and awareness is used in all snow season search and rescue missions, which, in Grand County, typically starts in October and ends in June.

In May, 2015, Grand County Search and Rescue responded to a report of a skier injured during an avalanche on Berthoud Pass. Once on scene, our team learned that two skiers were caught and partially buried in the slide, with one person being injured and not mobile. Their ski party was able to unbury the slide victims, but was not able to transport out their injured party. Our team volunteers responded to the scene, provided medical assessment and care, and evacuated the injured party on a toboggan, which required the use of two technical (rope) lowers due to steep terrain.

In January, 2011, GCSAR responded to a report of a snowboarder missing after his partner triggered an avalanche. Neither snowboarder was wearing an avalanche beacon, which hampered rescue. Volunteer members searched for the missing person for three days before locating and recovering his body. The victim had died from trauma during the avalanche, as do 30% of those caught in avalanches. Our volunteers always work and hope to perform a rescue, but recoveries are incredibly important to the family members of those who are lost.

Horse Team

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Adults
General population

Description

Grand County Search and Rescue calls in its horse team for mission response when horses will provide a quicker response to a distant backcountry location and mechanical transport is not feasible, when the horses can better carry equipment allowing team members to save their energy for providing care to the person in need, and to provide a faster extrication of persons who may not be able to walk out on their own, but are still able to sit on a horse. A portion of the funds donated to this program will be used for equipping and training the GCSAR horse team.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Horses have been used in numerous Search and Rescue Missions, such as in August, 2015, when responders traveled on horseback to a campsite 8 miles back in response to a report of an injured hiker; or in September, 2015, when a horse was used to carry in a litter, big wheel, life blanket, and rope & belay bags over difficult and hilly terrain strewn with downfallen trees to help evacuate an injured hunter; or in July, 2017, when a horse team was used to carry out a hiker with an injured foot and a litter carry would have endangered the hiker and rescuers because of the steepness and narrowness of the trail and exposed cliff edges along the trail.

Search Dog Team

Class

Public Safety, Disaster Services 

Beneficiaries

At-Risk Populations
Deaf & Hearing Impaired
Families
General population
Parents

Description

GCSAR's search dog team assists with searches for missing persons in the backcountry and in communities. With a strong sense of smell, search dogs can smell someone from more than a mile away, track where someone has walked more than several hours or even a day earlier, smell through the snow or water, and find the remains of those who have died in the backcountry to provide closure for families.

To ensure that our canine handlers and dogs are most effective, each year our teams participate in several workshops with experts throughout the U.S. Including travel, lodging and workshop costs, these workshops can cost more than $1,000 each, most of which is paid by the handlers. Funds donated to the canine program will help pay for these workshops.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Our search dogs have been part of successful searches throughout Colorado. A few examples of our dogs' individual achievements: Search dog Earl helped find the remains of a 70-year-old woman with early stage alzheimer's who went missing after she hiked from Boulder County across the continental divide into Grand County. Search dog Shockoe helped find alive a 10-year-old autistic girl who had walked away from her family's campsite and over a ridge. Search dog Taz helped identify the location of a hiker who died of exposure after climbing Mount Harvard.

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