SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Search and rescue groups in Colorado are already setting records for missions and the summer has only just begun.
“We had about 2 months of quiet … and then on June 1 everything exploded. We’ve had 19 calls as of June 1, and we’ve had seven calls just this weekend,” said Anna Anna Debattiste, Public Information Officer for the Summit County Rescue Group.
Year to date, the group has had 85 calls, compared to 54 calls this time last year, and Debattiste noted that last year was record breaking.
CBS4 barely caught up with Debattiste on Sunday. She had just returned from a successful mission to find a missing hiker. On Saturday, she was on scene at the Continental Divide Trail at the top of Peak 6 in Breckenridge to assist in the rescue of an injured speed flier.
“A speed flier is a paraglider with a smaller wing than your typical paraglider that’s made only to descend … not ascend like a typical paraglider does,” she continued, “so they climb up to the top of a mountain, they run like heck, and they jump off, and this particular speed flyer was attempting to do barrel rolls. Her husband said that the air was kind of ‘sinky’ that day. I guess that’s a technical term that speed flyers use, and she hit the ground.”
The woman was transported to Denver Health. While her injuries were serious, Debattiste said they were not life threatening.
“Flight for life dropped two nurses and then two emergency room physicians happened to be hiking by, so there were probably 10 Good Samaritans that helped to carry her to a landing zone about 3 quarters of a mile away so that flight for life could fly her to Denver,” she said.
So far, all of the rescue missions have been successful, but Debattiste is concerned with the volume of calls so far.
“A lot of our calls are overdue calls, so, somebody gets worried that you’re not back when you said you’re going to be back, and it turns out that there just wasn’t good communication before you left. So have a plan for how you’re going to let people know that you’re back and make sure they have realistic idea of how long it’s going to take you.”
The Summit Rescue Group isn’t the only one seeing a high volume of calls to start the summer. The Alpine Rescue Group and the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group are breaking records as well.
“It’s the Front Range teams and then the I-70 corridor that really gets hit,” she said.
Debattiste says she sometimes feels like a broken record but can’t stress safety and planning enough.
“Do your homework, know before you go, carry the 10 essentials –extra food, clothing, water, navigation tools, sun protection, a headlamp, some kind shelter. All of those things that you would want to have if you’re going to have to spend hours out there after getting lost or maybe someone in your group gets hurt.”
Not only will it help you, but it will help search and rescue teams.
“We are all volunteers, and with a weekend like this we do worry about people getting overloaded,” she said.
If you would like to help support the SAR volunteers or learn more about their educational resources, click here.