Search and rescue teams across Colorado have seen an increase in the number of calls in recent years, and Larimer County Search and Rescue is no exception. In 2020, the team responded to 67 calls, and there were 73 in 2021. This year, 26 new trainees began the 11-week Basic Search and Rescue Training, working to be part of the LCSAR team. Eight weeks into training, the students, or BASARTs, have learned essential knots, CPR, basic first aid, geography, tracking, navigating, working around canines and have completed a mock search. The BASARTs will also learn anchors, rappelling, ascending, rescue systems, moving across scree and then take a final that, if passed, will make them fully active LCSAR team members.
The team has operated under the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office with a memorandum of understanding since 1979, covering 2,640 square miles of land as a nonprofit and volunteer-staffed with graduates of the BASART program. As a charitable organization, LCSAR does not charge the subject of a search or the LCSO for their services, covering their $70,000 operating costs through fundraising events, grants and donations.
Consisting of 85 members, LCSAR responds to a number of missions consisting primarily of searching for missing outdoor recreationists, escorts back to the trailhead and evidence searches. According to the mission statement on their website, in any search, LCSAR’s objective “is to find the lost, rescue the stranded and injured, recover the deceased and educate the public on wilderness and mountain safety.” To fulfill their missions, LCSAR utilizes a customized truck for hauling gear and reaching more difficult areas, a converted pop-up camper from 2008 donated by a past member that acts as a command center and the members’ personal vehicles to get to staging areas.
Recently the team applied for a $170,000 grant to purchase a four-wheel drive van to act as a more suitable command center with $58,000 granted, and they hope to have it completed by 2023. As summer recreationists return to Larimer County, LCSAR prepares for more searches in popular areas, like the Greyrock and Horsetooth mountains, as well as Rocky Mountain National Park. With only 24% cell coverage even in popular areas, recreationists should be prepared and remember cell phones are not always reliable. The Preventative Search and Rescue program recommends people always hike with the 10 essentials: water, food, headlamp, navigation, first aid, a shelter (or even just an emergency blanket or tarp), fire, knife, extra clothes and sun protection.
Larimer County Search and Rescue Basic Search and Rescue Training students are tested on their knots after conducting a mock search April 9.
After conducting a mock search, team three debriefs in the command trailer April 9.
Thomas Carney, Bob Townsend, Erica Exline and Ben Draper walk a road on the edge of their mock search area April 9.
Ben Draper stands in a field atop a ridge to gain a better view of the mock search area April 9.
12. Thomas Carney, Bob Townsend and Ben Draper regroup while conducting a mock search to reassess their plan April 9.
11. Team three walks a road to their mock search area April 9. The mock search consisted of eight teams searching for nine staged subjects lost in an area.
10. Bryan Bibeau, Erica Exline, Thomas Carney and Ben Draper study a map of their search area before beginning a mock search April 9.
9. Basic Search and Rescue Training students brief before conducting a mock search for nine missing people April 9.
3. Students participating in the Larimer County Search and Rescue Basic Search and Rescue Training course practice tying knots April 6.
1. Students participating in the Larimer County Search and Rescue Basic Search and Rescue Training course begin learning the necessary skills needed to become an LCSAR member April 6.
Kismet recives a toy from her owner, Jeff Liddle, after finding the missing subject during a trailing dog demonstration day for Larimer County Search and Rescue Basic Search and Rescue Training students April 3.
Christopher Robertson and his tracking dog, Bohannan, follow a scent to a hidden member of the Basic Search and Rescue Training to demonstrate to students how dogs follow a scent April 3. Tracking dogs follow a trail from footfall to footfall, while air scent dogs follow a scent through the air.
Basic Search and Rescue Training students practice night navigation by locating and moving to coordinates on a map with a Larimer County Search and Rescue member April 4.
A Basic Search and Rescue Training student practices night navigation by plotting coordinates and determining a bearing to hidden objects April 4.
Scott Evans and Dave Hake teach students of the Larimer County Search and Rescue Basic Search and Rescue Training course how to track a subject and secure a vehicle April 2. The tracks under the driver side door perpendicular to the vehicle are of special interest, as they indicate what shoe the driver could be wearing.
2. Scott Evans demonstrates the “wrap three, pull two” climbing anchor to students of the Larimer County Search and Rescue Basic Search and Rescue Training program March 30.
7. Tom Forbes, heavy equipment manager for Larimer County Search and Rescue, gives an overview of the LCSAR team’s gear truck March 5. The truck is used on 98% of missions to haul gear, radios and managers.
6. Diane Abshire and Brittany Decker practice applying an automated external defibrillator, doing chest compressions and using a face mask in a cardiopulmonary resuscitation class March 5. The class was part of the Larimer County Search and Rescue Basic Search and Rescue Training course.
5. Debbie Francis, medical officer for Larimer County Search and Rescue, demonstrates how to pack a wound to students of LCSAR Basic Search and Rescue Training course March 5.
Scott Evans and Ed Hildenbrand assist a student with a knot March 5.
Reach Garrett Mogel at email@example.com or on Twitter @MountainManGman.