Vail Mountain Rescue Group averaged more than 2 missions a week in 2022
Group updates county commissioners on recent recertifications
- 123 missions
- 149 training sessions
- 132 meetings
- 8,110 total operational and training hours
You have to love the work if you want to join the Vail Mountain Rescue Group.
Group President Scott Beebe and Chief of Staff Emily Cutcliffe on Tuesday gave the Eagle County Board of Commissioners an overview of the organization’s activities and accomplishments in the past year or so.
Eagle County Emergency Manager Birch Barron described the group’s work as part of a “complex machine” when it comes to helping people in the backcountry. That machine includes law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders.
The job apparently works its way into the being of the approximately 75 volunteer members.
Beebe, the pastor of Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, said he’s been part of the group for the past 12 years. “This is work that I greatly love,” he said.
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Part of this year’s update was the news that the group recently re-earned certifications from the Mountain Rescue Association. Vail Mountain Rescue is one of roughly 50 such groups in the state. The local organization is one of only 13 to earn certifications from the Mountain Rescue Association.
The certification is a two-day process covering disciplines including search, “high angle,” “low angle,” avalanche and winter technical.
The work required members to do some work they don’t usually do. The “high angle” rescue had to take place near Wolcott, one of the few places in the valley with that type of terrain.
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Since everyone in the group has a job, certification and training all take place between roughly 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Training was sidetracked during the COVID-19 pandemic, although missions kept coming. Missions often last long into the night, and 2022 saw a bit more than two missions per week, on average.
But, Beebe noted, “behind the numbers, there’s always a human face.”
Member Ben Swig made a surprise appearance at the presentation and brought a bunch of his gear with him.
The gear in his car includes gear for swift water rescue, along with gear for winter, spring and summer missions.
Other members also carry gear around in their vehicles, Swig said, adding that the group is “always ready and always connected.”
Members buy their own gear.
Swig said members enjoy the work. “We just have a passion, an interest in serving and supporting the community,” he said, adding that the group is fortunate to have the cooperative relationships it does with other first responders.
Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek noted “there’s no real quiet season” for the group. And, he added, the group these days is far better than it was in the not-too-distant past.
“They’re like shining stars … we’re extremely proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish,” he said.
Barron told the commissioners that the rescue group deserves “anything we can do” for support. Anyone can donate to the group through its website, VailMountainRescue.org.