JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - Colorado search and rescue (SAR) teams are trying to make sure they have the resources to handle their busiest season of the year. They've already responded to dozens of mountain and water rescues across the state, but saving lives takes a lot of money.
People injured or stranded while hiking or biking in Colorado will not be charged for their rescue. But for the team coming to get the person, it could mean thousands of dollars -- and not always getting it back.
Emergency crews in Grand County spent the holiday weekend searching for a missing swimmer. With no dive team and no boat the recovery effort was difficult and meant calling in outside resources.
"Public safety is paramount for us. We are a small county and just like other small counties we don't have the resources other agencies have," Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said.
According to the Colorado Search and Rescue Board, their teams make nearly 1,400 missions across the state every year. Dispatched by local sheriffs, the county or the SAR team will usually incur the cost, which in some cases can be thousands of dollars.
"The radios that are used nowadays, they are the same radios that county sheriffs and fire departments use … they are anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 apiece," Howard Paul with the Colorado Search and Rescue Board said.
That's where the Search and Rescue Fund comes in. Denise Stepto with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs says anyone who currently has a hunting or fishing license, or registers a boat or off-road vehicle, already pays into the fund. If they need rescuing, the county will get reimbursed. For those who don't hold one of those, having a Colorado Search and Rescue card is a good investment.
"Our sheriffs' departments across the state are the ones who deploy these volunteer teams, and these are some amazing folks who do this on their own time to make sure they are skilled and have the right equipment to come out and find you," Stepto said.
They are not insurance cards. With or without one the rescue teams will respond. It's just a way to give back allowing them to get the training and equipment they need.
Coverage is just $3 for an entire year. Visit IHelpSearch.org for more information and to purchase a Colorado Search and Rescue card.
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