“Slow is smooth; smooth is fast,” reads Lake County Search and Rescue’s favorite motto.
Amidst an upward tick in call volume, the group is trying to stand by their chosen phrase.
So far this year, LCSAR has received 17 more calls than in 2017. This mirrors the Leadville Police Department, Leadville/Lake County Fire-Rescue and Lake County Sheriff’s Office increase in call volume as Lake County’s tourism industry grows.
In addition to more call traffic, LCSAR is receiving higher profile calls, president of LCSAR Jaqlyn Ducharme told the Herald.
Such calls often span more than 24 hours and require mutual-aid and/or other resources such as helicopters and dog teams.
LCSAR’s team, made up exclusively of volunteers, is growing alongside call volume; the group has added 20 members since last fall. The team is now 34 members strong.
Yet as new members work towards training certifications and others face busy professional and family lives, LCSAR’s capacity is often strapped.
“We embrace and welcome everyone to LCSAR,” said Ducharme, encouraging residents to join the group come September enrollment.
Different roles are available for different skill sets, she said, from incident command to medical response to search strategy.
Sport and seasonal preferences are also expected.
In the winter, some prefer snowmobiles, others backcountry skis. In the summer, some specialize in all-terrain vehicles, others boats.
SAR 101 and 102 training, as well as a background check, fitness test and pack check are required for new volunteers.
LCSAR coordinates or pays volunteers to attend trainings such as: avalanche rescue, wilderness first responder and swift-water rescue.
“I’m expecting we are going to have a busy summer,” Ducharme told the Herald.
In addition to covering Lake County’s 377-square miles, including rescue hotspots like Mount Elbert and Chalk Mountain, LCSAR supports Leadville Race Series’ events and other local races.
As Ducharme and her team prepare for the warmer months, she encourages summer adventurers to purchase a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue card.
The card, available for $3 for one-year or $12 for five-years, allows the state to reimburse search and rescue organizations for the costs incurred during missions.
Additionally, remember the ten essentials (navigation, sun protection, insulation, illumination, first-aid supplies, fire, repair kit and tools, nutrition, hydration and emergency shelter), hike in pairs and tell a friend where you’re headed.
Most importantly, Ducharme told the Herald, don’t be afraid to call because you’re scared to rack up a big bill, our services are free.
“We will never judge someone for a call,” she said.