When a person goes missing in the backcountry, a majority of the time a search and rescue team is deployed to head out and find that person. At Colorado State University-Pueblo there is a group of people who are interested in lending a hand and learning about the search and rescue trade.
The Student Recreation Center and the Outdoor Pursuits program are currently holding a class to teach students how they can become a part of a search and rescue team. The class is led by Scott Robertshaw, associate director of student recreation and director of Outdoor Pursuits.
“It’s so exciting!” Robertshaw said. “Schools across the country, and some even being in Colorado, have teams within search and rescue. Western State is one of those schools that has one. It’s a combination of students and staff and they are partnered with the local agencies in Gunnison.”
Robertshaw said the plan is to eventually get a group of people together to form a search and rescue team that can be called out when someone goes missing and local agencies need assistance. People participating in the class get training and certifications that they can take with them wherever they go.
“What’s key is where this lives. So this is a team in Student Recreation and Outdoor Pursuits. There is no academic credit class. So they aren’t getting a search and rescue certification from CSU-Pueblo,” Robertshaw said. “This is entirely through the Student Rec so it is non-academic. It’s not a club or a club sport it’s just a group or team within the Outdoor Pursuits.”
Robertshaw described the program as a sister program of Outdoor Pursuits.
He said there are three tiers to the search and rescue process.
“The first tier is just getting people together and talk search and rescue stuff, reading articles and looking up information,” he said. “The second tier is to set up a kind of class rotation for certification courses, the first being a Wilderness First Aid course. The third tier is to partner with the Pueblo County emergency services.”
The class has already started and the first meeting had a showing of 15 people. Students and faculty are welcome to show up to any meeting.
The ultimate goal in the end is for the group to be recognized as a team that can be called out to help throughout the year, Robertshaw said. When someone gets hurt, a carry out team is basically about 18 people, with six people holding the litter or rescue basket, six people resting and six carrying gear. Sometimes carry outs need a lot of resources.
In this class people will learn many of the skills like Wilderness First Aid, the ability to handle mental strain, rappelling or hiking in to where someone might be trapped and many others, Robertshaw said.
“For the last seven years I have been involved with being EMT and search and rescue and I’ve met lots of people in pueblo who are interested,” Robertshaw said. “So some of it comes from my own personal interest and some of it comes from the Outdoor Pursuits program. This is what we teach people to do.”
“Our staff naturally has people who are interested. I’m looking for opportunities to create unique programs for students that keep them here at CSU-Pueblo.”