Search and Rescue stages annual benefit

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— The 45 members of Routt County Search and Rescue could use a good, reliable people mover to get them to the search on time something more reliable than the 15-year-old Sub-urban that saw heavy duty with U.S. Forest Service before Search and Rescue inherited it.
"We have a good, reliable rescue truck," Mark Steur said. "But it's the second wave (of searchers) that's the problem. The old Suburban isn't dependable. We send people out and it breaks down and they get stranded. It has electrical problems it's always blowing fuses and the transmission is going."
Steur is the treasurer for Search and Rescue. The all-volunteer organization has already carried out 57 missions this year, rescuing lost hikers, hunters, skiers, snowmobilers and snowboarders.
The members even helped law enforcement agencies find a fugitive wanted for rape in another state.
A new vehicle to replace the old Suburban will be the item of highest priority when the Steamboat Brewery and Tavern hosts the annual fund-raiser for Search and Rescue Tuesday.
Steur said the organization, which is under the supervision of Routt County Sheriff John Warner during its missions, operates on an annual budget of about $76,000.
Of that total, about $20,000 is devoted to equipment.
Search and Rescue gets funding from both Routt County and the city of Steamboat Springs. It also counts heavily on an annual grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
Some mission expenses, such as mileage, food and broken equipment, are refunded out of a pool of money that comes from hunting, fishing and hiking license fees.
"That doesn't really get us our basic operating expenses," Steur said.
He said Search and Rescue spends $5,000 a year on the building it shares with Steamboat Ambulance. Fortunately, insurance for the organization is covered under the sheriff's department.
Search and Rescue equipment manager John McArthur said the group has been fortunate to acquire some critical new pieces of equipment this year. There's a brand-new ATV with a trailer and a new snowmobile.
Unfortunately, most of the snowmobiles and ATVs available to the group date back to the 1980s, McArthur said.
Search and Rescue volunteers train heavily, he added. They have four regular training sessions a month plus a work night to maintain their equipment.
Usually, they have two all-day trainings session on Saturdays every quarter. There are additional training sessions for special topics such as rock climbing with ropes and the wildland fire fighting session that was held Sept. 19.
McArthur estimates he spends 10 to 20 hours a week just maintaining equipment and keeping up with necessary paperwork. Steur devotes 10 to 15 hours weekly on his duties as treasurer.

To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210 or e-mail tomross@amigo.net

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