Search and Rescue awarded $13,000 grant |

Search and Rescue awarded $13,000 grant

Melissa Roddy/Steamboat Today

— Gearing up for the hazards of a back-country winter will be much easier for Routt County Search and Rescue this year as the group just received a grant to buy and upgrade rescue equipment.

The Colorado department of Local Affairs awarded RCSAR $13,000 to replace outdated equipment and upgrade technical gear. RCSAR plans to use the money to upgrade their computer mapping system and buy associated satellite tracking receivers, two-way radios and batteries, helmets and avalanche beacons and other safety equipment.

"We do receive annual funding from both the county and the city, mainly for our operating expenses, but big ticket items are difficult for us without the (Department of Local Affairs) grant," RCSAR Joe Stevens said.

To find victims and keep track of search teams during a rescue, they depend on a computerized mapping system developed by Steamboat local and RCSAR member Guy roughrider. The sophisticated system is also used by other search and rescue groups throughout the United States and Canada. RCSAR will use some of the grant money to buy more detailed maps for the system.

They also plan to order satellite recievers That work with the computer system. The recievers will attach to rescue teams' radios and work as tracking devises. Searches wearing the devises will appear as blips on the computerized mapping screen, providing organizers with real-time monitoring of the teams' often remote locations.

"It helps us track our teams better in the field and direct them into probale locations for rescues," Stevens said. "IT makes the process safer and more efficient."

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The Department of Local Affairs Search and Rescue Fund gets the grant money it distributes from a 25-cent fee included in the cost of biking, camoing, fishing and conservation permits and licenses, and from snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle registrayion fees.

"This year, they had $350,000 or $375,000 available and they received $1.5 in grant requests," Stevens said. "We were granted full funding. It's impressive."

RCSAR is a volunteer organization that works in conjunction with the Routt County Sheriff's Office. It does not charge for services, so it depends ;argely on private donations and grants.

Although they are responsible for many winter backcountry rescues, the group also gets calls for help in the summer. Their most recent rescue was last week, when they were called in to get a 13 year-old Boy Scout with a broken arm out of the Flat Tops Wilderness.

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