Park County Search and Rescue: There when you need them

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Sunday, Sept. 9 was one for the books for the Park County Sheriff’s Office’s Search and Rescue Unit, responding to three emergency calls in a six-hour span.

The day began with a distress call from County Commissioner Jake Fulkerson, who found himself trapped by a boulder on the North Fork’s Crow Peak. As the PCSAR worked to free the commissioner, a call came in of a Minnesota man who’d been attacked by a bear in the Beartooth Mountains. While working that call, yet another came in, this time asking for assistance with finding a Cody woman who’d gone missing west of Crandall.

The PCSAR was back at it just five days later, when a Cody outfitter was thrown from his horse in the Boulder Basin area of the South Fork on Friday. As had been the case with Commissioner Fulkerson, PCSAR worked in conjunction with Tip Top Search and Rescue out of Sublette County to extract the outfitter by helicopter. For each call, volunteers were relied on for rescue efforts, along with help from Cody Regional Health’s wilderness medical team.

“I am so proud of these volunteers,” Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said of the search and rescue members. “After hiking up and down the steep terrain of Crow Peak to rescue a trapped hiker, they returned to Cody and prepared themselves to begin a second and then a third search, never questioning any of it. They hiked for seven hours in the pitch black wilderness; fording a river that was waste deep.”

According to the sheriff’s office’s website, the PCSAR routinely consists of between 25 and 30 volunteers “from all walks of life.” Members are trained in a variety of skills involving life-saving techniques, wilderness search, and, as illustrated during the past week, mountain rescue and search management. When motorists become stranded, when hikers wander off the beaten path, when injuries occur in the most remote places and the most inopportune times, it’s the PCSAR, with a little help from their friends, that is called into action.

As a county, and as a state, we are lucky to have these brave and selfless individuals, and we thank them for what they do. They spend their weekends helping those in need with nary a second thought, and often spend days, and even weeks searching for those who may be beyond help. 

Just two years ago, members of the PCSAR searched tirelessly, along with many others, for our friend and colleague Gib Mathers, who had gone missing on the North Fork. When his body was finally found, the PCSAR assisted Wyoming Game and Fish and officers from the Shoshone National Forest to bring Gib home, bringing a sense of closure to those who loved him.

It’s a great thing these people do.

If you know or run into a member of the PCSAR, a volunteer firefighter or any other person who commits their time and effort in the interest of public safety, take a moment to tell them you appreciate what they do.

After all, the next person plucked off the side of a mountain just might be you.

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