By Michael Abeyta

(CBS4) – A very unique Colorado rescue team traveled to Georgia to receive a very prestigious military award. Members of the Colorado Hoist Rescue Team accepted the DUSTOFF Association Rescue of the Year Award for a rescue they performed in 2020.

(credit: Alpine Rescue Team)

In September of 2020, the Colorado Hoist Rescue Team, rescued of an injured hiker from Crestone Needle, at a summit at more than 13,000 feet in elevation.

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The Colorado Hoist Rescue Team was founded in 2016 and consists of a Colorado Army National Guard aircrew and 28 civilian rescuers from four different organizations including Alpine Rescue Team, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, Mountain Rescue Aspen and Vail Mountain Rescue.

Their mission is to work collaboratively to use a helicopter to hoist and rescue injured hikers in the highest, most remote and challenging parts of Colorado’s backcountry. It’s a job the Colorado Army National Guard trains and is equipped for.

(credit: Alpine Rescue Team)

“Flight for Life and other rotorcraft organizations just don’t have the equipment,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Greg White with Colorado Army National Guard.

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The award is typically given to enlisted men and women to recognize extraordinary medical evacuations. This is the first time civilian rescue personnel are receiving the award.

“We really feel honored to work with the National Guard with the skills and capabilities they bring to the table and to receive this award is truly remarkable,” said Alpine Rescue Team Technician Michael Griffin.

(credit: Alpine Rescue Team)

The team performs more than 25 mountain rescues each year, helping those who like to explore the Colorado wilderness avoid tragedy because you never know when disaster may strike.

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“Accidents happen. They happen even to the most skilled people,” said Alpine Rescue Team Technician Dale Atkins.

Michael Abeyta