CREEDE— After months of waiting the Mineral County Search and Rescue (SAR) team has finished a new snowmobile trailer that was donated by Wolf Creek Ski Resort owner David Pitcher.
The trailer was designed to fit six snowmobiles and search equipment to help with winter search efforts for both the Mineral County Search and Rescue as well as the ski patrol team from Wolf Creek. According to SAR Director Terry Wetherill, the trailer will also house a new snow ambulance trailer that was purchased with funds awarded through the Colorado Search and Rescue end of year grant.
“The trailer can house up to six snowmobiles if we are not carrying the snow ambulance trailer attachment. With the snow ambulance, we can fit up to four additional snow machines inside. Now, we have everything we need for a winter rescue in one trailer, which makes responding to an emergency situation that much easier,” said Wetherill. The pull-behind snow ambulance will allow search teams to place injured or compromised persons involved in an emergency situation on the trailer and get them out of the elements during transport.
Wetherill further explained that the funds used to purchase the new snow ambulance came from a grant that is the accumulated annual monies collected by the state from the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses. “People who purchase hunting and fishing licenses as well as ATV registrations pay an additional 25 cents to go towards search and rescue efforts across the state. That money is compiled throughout the year and SAR teams around the state can apply for those funds through the Colorado Search and Rescue end of year grant process,” said Wetherill.
In addition to the snowmobile trailer, Pitcher also donated a new snowmobile to be added to the fleet for Mineral County Search and Rescue. “We have been taking advantage of the recent snow to train on the machines and use the snow ambulance so that we are better prepared for an emergency situation, should one arise,” said Wetherill. Mineral County SAR works closely with the ski patrol team training in avalanche response and mitigation in the area.
Mineral County SAR is one of the best equipped search teams in the area thanks to the hard work and dedication of their members and the partnerships they have formed with local organizations like Wolf Creek Ski Resort and RWEACT. Both organizations have provided equipment and funding to ensure that the SAR team is prepared for any type of emergency whether it occurs in winter or summer months. Due to the rural nature of the area, response time for other agencies can be as long as 30 minutes, which is why the team needs to be as prepared as possible to respond to emergencies on their own.
“We are continuously training in other areas of emergency response. Every month, during our meetings we set aside time to do rope training, swift water training, distress beacon training or anything else that we may need to know to be prepared for an emergency here,” said Wetherill.
The snowmobile trailer was also wrapped with decal by Pitcher, depicting the Mineral County Search and Rescue name, contact information and a picture of the Creede area in the background so that it can be easily identified when out on scene.
The snow ambulance also came with a conversion kit that allows it to be used during the summer months as well.