Record editorial: Heroic work of Summit County Search and Rescue volunteers doesn’t go unnoticed
They’re the people you hope to never need. But they’ll be there if you ever do.
That’s a truth more people are learning firsthand as the Summit County Search and Rescue team responds to a growing number of incidents. Last year, for instance, the team fielded 75 calls, up from 39 in 2015.
But while the volunteers who make up the Search and Rescue squad have never been busier, their contributions go unnoticed much of the time. It’s often not until a major search is underway that their work garners headlines, and even then, the focus is on the people who have gone missing rather than the ones sacrificing their time, effort and safety to find them.
It’s important to acknowledge the heroic work the volunteers perform. It’s not for the faint of heart. They respond at all hours to situations ranging from conducting exhausting searches spanning days or weeks to rescuing skiers caught in avalanches to transporting injured hikers out of the wilderness. In extreme cases, Search and Rescue proves to be the difference between life and death.
The task is demanding, both mentally and physically, and it’s made all the more difficult by what the volunteers give up in their personal lives. For many of them, the time spent responding to incidents is time they’re missing with their families. The emergencies, unfortunately, don’t happen only when it’s convenient for the people responding to them.
So why do they do it? As team member Bridgette Blonquist put it, it’s because “I would hope someone would help my kids if it was them.”
Those who spend time in Summit County’s expansive wilderness — and who could conceivably call on Search and Rescue one day — are fortunate there are those among us willing to make those sacrifices. While the people they assist and their families are certainly quick to express gratitude, the volunteers likely don’t hear “Thank you” enough from the rest of us. We should, whenever opportunities arise to do so, change that.
In a broader sense, residents can also show their gratitude by taking proper precautions and making safe decisions when heading into the wilderness. That will, hopefully, begin to reverse the trend in recent years that has seen Search and Rescue summoned more frequently than ever.
Take it from the volunteers themselves: They’re ready and willing to jump into action. But let’s do our best to make sure they don’t have to.
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