Search and Rescue seeks funding

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— Routt County Sheriff John Warner and Undersheriff Dan Taylor aren't all wet but they could be soon.

Dawn Alperti of Routt County Search and Rescue said Thursday that Warner and Taylor have agreed to perch above the dunk tank at the rescue organization's annual fund-raiser from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday at Slopeside Grill.

Search and Rescue is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization that responds to calls of lost hunters, skiers and snowmobilers. When Search and Rescue goes on a call, it is under the supervision of the sheriff.

The number of calls handled by Search and Rescue has climbed dramatically during the past several years. Alperti said that in 2000, the organization was contacted 82 times and engaged in 58 searches that resulted in 55 people being saved.

"So far in 2001, there have been at least 40 missions including an avalanche, a plane crash, a two-day search for lost snowmobilers and two, 1-plus hour missions that ran into the wee hours of the morning," Alperti said.

Search and Rescue has recently taken on new roles in the community, teaching 30 "Hug-a-Tree" classes to instruct more than 500 local school children on how to survive becoming lost in the woods.

Members of Search and Rescue train extensively in rope rescue techniques, swift water rescue and basic and advanced life support, Alperti said.

They can employ aircraft and search dogs in their missions. A wildland fire unit and a firearms unit were added in 2000.

Hunters and fishermen support Search and Rescue indirectly when they purchase licenses. A portion of the license fees goes into a fund to reimburse local search organizations. Similarly, hikers can purchase $3 certificates from the state that support the Search and Rescue fund.

Tuesday's benefit will raise funds to help the local Search and Rescue organization's ongoing funding needs, including the replacement of equipment. Tickets are $10 each. In addition to the dunk tank, there will be a number of auction items.

Routt County building department officials Scott Pierce and Mark Marchus also have agreed to risk the dunk tank, a bonus for people in the construction trades.

Participants at the fund-raiser will enjoy pizza and appetizers.

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