The Colorado State University-Pueblo Search and Rescue team will be looking for volunteers this fall who are interested in joining their officially recognized team.
With a memorandum of understanding signed by Pueblo County, the team is ready to start taking the next big steps in becoming field-ready.
To become official, CSU-Pueblo, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and Pueblo County Commissioners had to agree to terms laid out in the MOU.
“Now that that is in place, it means that the people that would be able to authorize us are on board and the people who authorize them are on board,” said Scott Robertshaw, associate director of student recreation and director of Outdoor Pursuits. “So it’s official.”
Robertshaw said he’s excited for the next big steps to come this coming semester. Their plans include forming the team by doing training and meeting with the sheriff’s office to go over paperwork.
“A part of the puzzle is all volunteers have to have workman’s comp which is being housed in the sheriff’s office,” Robertshaw said.
A majority of personal paperwork will be filed with the sheriff’s office because the team will only be able to respond in conjunction or authorization of the sheriff’s office.
The big project now is getting the administrative side with paperwork and a training checklist and team policies taken care of.
“We plan on doing all that throughout the summer so it’s totally ready when the students come back,” Robertshaw said.
Now that the team is official, Robertshaw expects the interest level to grow, and there is no limit to the number of welcome volunteers they are willing to have join the team. Right now, the team has 14 people who want to join and interest from over 32 people, Robertshaw said.
Although the team is not deployable yet, it does have a constitution, roles, a checklist and some training documents already in place that have been played around with. This is all from hard work from the current members over the last year.
“We want to make sure that when we tell the sheriff’s office we are ready that they know what we are ready for and that we can follow through and do our job,” Robertshaw said. “We don’t want to let anyone down or not be ready.”
To determine what the team is ready for in the field requires a lot of practice, including getting packs ready, fitness tests, land navigation tests, lessons on how to assist with the medical aspect and helping haul a litter and basic technical rope skills just to support.
“With this we can be a part of a search team and be out doing our job,” Robertshaw said.
Throughout the entire process of becoming an official search and rescue team, Robertshaw has reached out to other agencies asking what they would do if they were making a whole new team. He has received advice and guidance from other university based teams who have gone through the same process.
Robertshaw said the team has received help from Western State Colorado University, Pueblo County, Arapaho High School and CSU-Pueblo chemistry professor Mel Druelinger.
Additionally, he said, “Custer, Fremont, Teller County have been in contact with us because, we are building a team from the ground up and from what I can tell there haven’t been new teams in a while in the state of Colorado.”