Coming to Search and Rescue's aid

If you go

What: Routt County Search and Rescue's annual fundraiser

When: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Bear River Bar and Grill

Cost: $15

Call: 879-7173

— Randall Hannaway, president of Routt County Search and Rescue, figures his group of 50 rescuers puts in as many or more volunteer hours as any organization in the county.

Responding primarily to calls for lost hunters in the backcountry during the fall, and lost skiers or snowmobilers in the winter, the Search and Rescue team is one of the better-funded squads of its kind in the state, but also is one of the busiest, Hannaway said.

Search and Rescue will hold its annual fundraiser from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday at Bear River Bar and Grill. The event helps cover the gap between the money the organization gets from the county, and costs for equipment and training. Tickets, which include a Mexican food buffet and a silent auction, are $15 and will be available at the door.

With hunting season getting under way and low temperatures creeping in, fall is the start of a busy season for the volunteer rescuers, Hannaway said.

"Based on the weather and the mission activity recently, we're probably going to need all the help we can get this year," he said.

The volunteers have had a busy fall, and the number of rescue missions usually picks up when the weather starts to change.

Search and Rescue members are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and respond to between 60 and 80 calls annually. Because missions are seldom short - lasting a minimum of a couple of hours and often multiple days, most volunteers' employers allow them to leave work to save lives.

"One thing that I certainly am grateful for : is that all these folks, for the most part, have jobs, and their employers are really gracious to let them go," Hannaway said.

Routt County Search and Rescue is part of an elite, 85-team group called the Mountain Rescue Association, which has strict training requirements for its members. The fundraiser will help keep new and old members of Routt County Search and Rescue up to the association's standards.

Tuesday's event is sponsored by Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., Bear River Bar and Grill, Steamboat Orthopedic Associates and Orthopedics of Steamboat Springs. Hannaway said he expects a crowd of about 500, and encourages anyone interested in working with Search and Rescue to attend and learn more about the organization.

"It's a great time to come in and see us if you're thinking about joining Search and Rescue, and get to know us," he said.

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