Rapid deployment teams to test their response
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado avalanche deaths often near a peak in February, and a fickle snowpack in the backcountry has experts on edge once again this year.
To help keep emergency responders fully prepared for logistically challenging backcountry rescues, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the Summit County Rescue Group will send rescue teams on a mock mission in Mayflower Gulch this weekend in a rapid deployment exercise.
At about 9 a.m. Saturday (Feb. 23), Flight For Life helicopters will begin transporting rescue teams from the Corn Lot at Copper Mountain Ski Resort into the vicinity of the Boston Mine in Mayflower Gulch. Snowmobiles will be used to transport participants and equipment along Mayflower Gulch Road back to the parking lot at the end of the exercise.
The drill is designed to test real-time response to avalanche situations involving buried victims. Search teams are made up of both human and canine members of the Summit County Rescue Group, an all-volunteer organization that annually dedicates more than 12,000 hours to respond to calls for assistance in the backcountry, in addition to roughly 6,000 hours of training.
Flight For Life Colorado – also a nonprofit organization – assists SCRG and many other search and rescue agencies by providing specialized services such as aerial search support and air medical services. Flight For Life also supports search and rescue missions and training exercises across the state with donated man hours and rotor time.
“We are thrilled to have this type of exercise take place in Summit County,” said Jan Cutts, District Ranger for the Dillon Ranger District. “These teams provide a great service to the community, and we are proud to have such a high caliber of professionals available in case of an emergency.”
Visitors to the Mayflower Gulch area should be aware of the possibility of encountering snowmobiles along Mayflower Gulch Road the day before and the day of the training.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” said Sheriff John Minor. “We are making every effort to keep motorized travel to a minimum, and we look forward to an informative and mutually beneficial exercise.”