Summit County Rescue Group put to the test |

Summit County Rescue Group put to the test

Breeana Laughlin

“Help!” a male’s voice called from the top of a mountain near Loveland Pass. “Over here!”

From the road, his figure was just a dark pinpoint in a landscape of white.

One by one, rescue workers showed up on the scene. Calm and collected, they checked in with mission coordinators, clicked into skis or strapped into snowshoes and made their way up the mountain toward the man.

The scenario was part of the Summit County Rescue Group’s accreditation exercise by the Mountain Rescue Association.

Within minutes, the mountainside was filled with rescue workers surveying the landscape, probing, digging and marking the scene with flags. Nearby, men and women in brightly colored vests watched and listened, observing each and every action the rescue workers made.

“The scenario we set up is a simulation of a real incident,” said Bob Feroldi, a lead evaluator for the Mountain Rescue Association.

The Summit County Rescue Group is being evaluated in search, high-angle technical rescue, scree-field evacuation, winter rescue and avalanche operations. Mountain Rescue Association evaluators not only look at whether proper skills and techniques are being used; they also assess volunteers on teamwork, decision making and communication.

“We will evaluate how they respond, how they work as a team and function within the command structure,” Feroldi said. “There is a whole long criteria.”

Rescue volunteers have to keep a clear head under pressure.

“If we have poor leadership and are running around with our heads cut off, that is looked down upon,” said rescue group director Benjamin Butler.

The volunteers take the test very seriously.

“It’s a big deal for us,” Butler said. “It’s a very prestigious thing to be part of the Mountain Rescue Association.”

The Rocky Mountain Region of the Mountain Rescue Association has 18 member teams. The association prides itself on being “the best of the best” and providing “the platform to accredit the best mountain rescue teams in the world.”

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