The Larimer County Sheriff's Office and UCHealth have teamed up to make sure residents and visitors can enjoy every corner of the county without fear of prolonged responses to emergencies. LCSO's search and rescue team has been conducting training with UCHealth's LifeLine helicopter team to make sure they can respond to emergencies in remote areas quickly and safely.
The LCSO has applied to purchase and operate a hoist-capable helicopter of its own. While they await funding and approval, the team often partners with LifeLine to help people in need.
"We will often utilize LifeLine for search and rescue missions," said LCSO Emergency Services Unit Sgt. Derek Rosenquist.
Those on the search and rescue team have completed training with UCHealth's team of pilots and flight nurses. The members of the team are given safety and logistical training on how to properly fly in the hospital's helicopter. By having the trainings, the team can more effectively use the helicopter to travel to emergencies at further distances.
Often times emergencies in the mountains take place in very remote areas, specifically in areas that lack cell phone reception. Many phones are able to send out GPS signals. But, it could take deputies more than two hours just to drive to the trailhead of an emergency.
"It can be a five-hour hike just into the search area. This (partnership with LifeLine) will allow them to fly us into the search area," Rosenquist said. "With a helicopter, if we have coordinates and we know someone is in trouble, we can be in that area within 45 minutes to an hour. We can locate that person and see if they need help."
LCSO's team practiced getting in and out of the helicopter, properly opening and closing the doors, putting on safety belts and headsets and more. The goal of the trainings and collaboration is to expedite and increase the efficiency of responses to calls for help.
The deputies can now make their way to the hospital, board the helicopter and respond to a remote emergency location in a fraction of the time.
"A helicopter is a tool. It is using the right tool for the right job," Rosenquist said. "It has been amazing working with (UCHealth). I definitely know lives have been saved working with them."
LCSO is still working on finding funding for their proposal to own and operate their own helicopter. The sheriff's office told CBS News Colorado's Dillon Thomas operating a helicopter of their own would allow them to serve the community in ways they never have been able to before on their own.
LCSO said they hope to have their own copter program up and operating in the coming years.
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