Steamboat Springs Some unexpected generosity will ensure that Routt County Search and Rescue has the tools for continued success in North-west Colorado.
The volunteer organization recently received a piece of equipment that will speed up its response time.
It doesn't work in the snow, fit in a backpack or float, but it is just as invaluable as the other tools rescuers commonly use during missions.
The new laser color printer that now sits in Search and Rescue's downtown headquarters may not strike someone as mission material.
Looks are deceiving.
The bulky machine could be a lifesaver, Search and Rescue member Randall Hannaway said.
Mapping software allows rescuers to pinpoint an area they have searched or should search in relation to the suspected location of the person or people they are looking for.
The printer can quickly reproduce the selected area to the tune of 12 maps -- each 8.5-by-11 -- a minute.
That's a major improvement over the slow-moving ink jet printer Search and Rescue had been using.
By the time the old printer spit out a few poor quality maps, rescuers were long gone on their mission, Hannaway said.
In emergency situations, "time is everything," he said.
Getting accurate information in rescuers' hands quickly is essential to the success of search and rescue operations.
The maps' handy size means that rescuers don't have to lug around a cumbersome map in the field. Search and Rescue also saves money by not continually replacing worn-out maps, Hannaway said.
Developer Bruce Shugart donated the laser color printer to Search and Rescue a few weeks ago. Shugart, who is familiar with the challenges rescuers face when heading into the backcountry, works with Hannaway and learned from him how helpful such a printer would be to Search and Rescue.
The printer would have cost about $2,600.
The city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County fund the organization's general operating expenses, and proceeds from an annual fund-raiser allow the organization to replace worn and aging equipment used in rescue missions, such as snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and trucks.
But a few intense rescues can quickly drain funds.
Search and Rescue is the largest emergency service in the county with 50 to 55 active participants. Volunteers respond to dozens of emergency calls each year.