Rock for Rescue Celebrates GCSAR’s 30th anniversary
How much does it cost when Grand County Search and Rescue (GCSAR) team members go out in the middle of the night in a rain storm to find and rescue a lost or injured hiker?
What can the family of a hunter who perished in a snowstorm expect to pay for a five day search involving helicopters, search dogs and hundreds of hours of backcountry search by trained rescuers?
How much was the bill for evacuating a skier by toboggan who injured his leg when he got caught in an avalanche?
The answer: Zero.
Grand County Search and Rescue, like the majority of volunteer mountain rescue teams in Colorado, never charges for search, rescue or recovery operations.
But somebody has to pay, right? There are expenses – rescue equipment, radios, trucks and trailers, snowmobiles and ATVs. It costs money for training, rent, workman’s comp and fuel. One expense that doesn’t need tabulating are wages. No GCSAR members receive any monetary compensation for their volunteer hours.
So far this year GCSAR members have donated nearly 4,000 hours of their time. This includes fulfilling all operational and administrative functions, as well as the mundane — washing our trucks, cleaning our bathroom, sweeping our shop. At the current Colorado volunteer hourly rate of $25.68, that’s over $100,000 in value toward search and rescue in Grand County.
GCSAR provides search and rescue services for Grand County on a relatively small budget. Our 2015 budget is about $50,000, of which $30,000 is funded with your tax dollars through the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. That’s about two bucks for each Grand County resident. I did some quick calculating and figured that $30,000 is less than 0.5 percent of the nearly $7 million total tax dollars spent on emergency services in Grand County annually.
The rest of the money comes from grants and donations. Oftentimes, people we rescue send us a check. We don’t have a paid grant writer, but we are still awarded some grant money every year. Occasionally, our volunteers kick in some extra time and do some fundraising.
Capital expenditures, equipment like ATVs and snowmobiles, are purchased if and when we receive these “extra” funds. We learned years ago that we must do better at replacing equipment such as ATVs and snow machines. Our equipment takes a beating in the backcountry environments in which we operate. We have an equipment rotation schedule in place, but are always looking for ways to fund these purchases.
Training is another critical item that is funded with grants and donations. GCSAR trains year-round, including seminars and educational events focusing on the latest techniques and equipment. We do a lot of in-house training, but some training opportunities have a cost. With over 20 new members we have some training hurdles ahead of us.
We are fortunate to have two fundraising events this week. On Wednesday night, July 22, the Crooked Creek Saloon Concert in the Garden featuring Marc Shaw will benefit GCSAR with a portion of the proceeds.
Saturday night, July 25, the Winter Park Pub is sponsoring Rock for Rescue, a music event and 30th Anniversary social that will benefit GCSAR. Jeff Williams, owner of the Winter Park Pub, has been a strong supporter of our mission over the years, hosting and even subsidizing many events. BlueCat and Dan McGuinness will be entertaining, doors open at 4:30 p.m. If you would like to listen to some music and support GCSAR stop on in at either of these events.
As a group we value living in Grand County. Our members have chosen this avenue to give back to the community we call home. We appreciate the outstanding support we feel every day from the residents and guests of Grand County.
Greg Foley is a member of Grand County Search and Rescue and has been a mountain rescue volunteer for 35 years. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.
Tim Smith is a 14 year veteran of GCSAR.
The GCSAR website can be found at grandcountySAR.com or on Facebook/GCSAR.
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This summer’s potential for record-breaking recreation in Grand County comes down to simple math.