Lost and Found Champions Since 1981

11/22/2021

Literally dozens of backcountry enthusiasts each year can thank La Plata County Search and Rescue volunteers who came looking for and found them, and in some cases, saved their lives. Sponsored by Alpine Bank

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Hi, I'm Beth Drum with Alpine bank. At Alpine bank we value the services that our nonprofit community offers. We hope you enjoy meeting some of these change makers as part of the Alpine Bank series, Community Matters.

If finding lost people in the woods where competition, LaPlata County Search and Rescue volunteers would be champions.

So the organization started in 1978. It really started gaining traction in 1981 and it works through 124 volunteers sharing the same favorite four letter word. Sure. When the sheriff asks us, can you do this? Sure. When another agency says, can you do this? Sure. And then we go about to figure out how can we do that? How can we accomplish the task that they've asked us?

LaPlata county's lost and found champions conduct an average of 65 to 75 missions annually in Southwest Colorado. Operations run the gamut from finding the merely lost to rescuing a hiker, seriously injured from a 500 foot fall off a cliff. And the worst cases, rescue missions, turn into recovery missions. Volunteers train on their own time, pay for their own expenses and head into the dark of night on a moment's notice because someone is in trouble. And Quirkish says, volunteers do so selflessly and without judgment.

And sometimes you get that call and you go, "Hmm, wow! What were they thinking?" Right? Or not thinking. But the mentality of the team is that every call we get, regardless of how crazy it seems. All we hear is our mother on the other end of the line saying, "son, will you help me?" And if you can't answer yes to that question, we can't have you on the team because that's the dynamic of the team is every mission we go, every time we go hard every time and bring people back to pavement.

Local search and rescue teams work under the authority of the LaPlata County Sheriff, who is responsible under state law, for coordinating all search and rescue operations in the county.

Corkish commended Sheriff Sean Smith for the support he provides. Sheriff Smith recently was instrumental in the development and construction of the rescue teams first ever headquarters. That opened last year in Bodo Industrial Park. While search and rescue teams are ready, willing and able to find you when you are lost in the woods, Corkish encourages back country adventures to be prepared for the unexpected. Even if it's just a short hike in the woods.

And the number one thing is tell somebody that you're going. And that gets back to you, we're not just going on a three hour cruise. Leave a note, where are you going? When do you expect to be back? The details of it. And that way we have some idea of at least where to start. And of course water, shelter, some kind of energy, something or rather, those are the next three that you just got to take care of and build a fire, build a big fire.

If you do need help or are concerned that someone is overdue, don't hesitate to call search and rescue. The earlier the search begins, the better odds of finding him. If you do find yourself in trouble, head to higher ground if you can to get a phone signal and stay put.

I would encourage you to always send a text. So it takes a lot more bandwidth to send a conversation or leave a voicemail message. If you send a text and you hit send, right? It may go when a voice wouldn't go. And as you work your way through the forest, if it picks up the signal, it's going to launch that message.

LAPlata County Search and Rescue relies on donations, fundraisers and reimbursements from the Colorado Search and Rescue Fund. That's supported by a fee on hunting and fishing licenses. Your donation may help you one day and it certainly inspires the volunteers to give their all when someone is in trouble.

But there's just something about bringing people back to pavement, handing them off to their loved ones and so forth that just, it rocks our world.

To learn more or to make a donation visit laplatasar.org Thanks for watching this edition of Community Matters. Brought to you by Alpine Bank and the Local News Network. I'm Hannah Robertson.

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