Routt County Search and Rescue President Russ Sanford guides a basket carrying Search and Rescue volunteer Marc Bell during a training exercise last year. Sanford and other Search and Rescue leaders are looking for volunteers for the organization.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Routt County Search and Rescue President Russ Sanford guides a basket carrying Search and Rescue volunteer Marc Bell during a training exercise last year. Sanford and other Search and Rescue leaders are looking for volunteers for the organization.

Routt County Search and Rescue seeks committed volunteers

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— When Routt County Search and Rescue seeks out new members, they are looking for people’s time as much as anything else.

“We’re truly more concerned with a person’s commitment of time and service then we are about their past experience,” Search and Rescue President Russ Sanford said. “What makes Search and Rescue work so well is we bring a diverse group together. I truly believe there is a place on Search and Rescue for everybody.”

Search and Rescue is in the midst of its annual effort to bring on new volunteers. There are about 25 current active members. Sanford said the goal is to have between 30 and 35 committed members.

“People think it requires specialized skills and experience, and that’s not really the case,” Sanford said. “You have to have your family support.”

Members could be paged at any time on any day to embark on a search or rescue mission in the backcountry.

“What I remind people is you have to visualize yourself leaving work on occasion, and your employer has to be OK with that,” Sanford said.

New volunteers are trained for six months to a year before they are given a pager that allows them to respond to calls.

The group requires its members to participate in 25 percent of missions, and they must be available Tuesday evenings for training. Sanford said he would like new members to make a three-year commitment.

“Being on Search and Rescue has to become a part of your life,” Sanford said.

Those who are interested must be at least 21 years old and can download an application at www.routtcountysar.org. It should be returned to Search and Rescue by the middle of January with a copy of the applicant’s driving record.

Once applications are received, Search and Rescue conducts interviews. Sanford said applicants are asked why they might want to join in addition to why they might not.

“We know that being on Search and Rescue is a balance between work, family and Search and Rescue,” Sanford said.

Routt County Search and Rescue is an all-volunteer organization that relies on fundraisers and other forms of community and government support to operate. They conduct missions year-round. In 2010, for example, Search and Rescue members carried out 47 missions and logged 46,055 volunteer hours. That year was their second busiest on record.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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