Lack of Funding and Increase in Incidents Takes Toll on Search and Rescue Teams

"Weary after a year of increased calls and grim missions, Colorado's more than 2,800 volunteer backcountry rescuers are hoping lawmakers can find better funding and support." -Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun

Blevins, J. (2021, March 16). Stress threatens Colorado search and rescue teams as calls for help climb during coronavirus. The Colorado Sun. Retrieved From

Volunteer-based search and rescue teams all across Colorado are feeling the stress and weariness of a year that has seen drastic increases in those calling for help. In a year of the coronavirus pandemic, people surged to the backcountry in record numbers. Buying up all the outdoor equipment, people re-connected with nature like never before. Of course, this is great for human nature, but with increased visitation comes increased emergencies which require a response from local search and rescue teams. Some localized search and rescue organizations have reported as much as 132% increases in calls when compared to years past. This increase takes a dramatic toll on volunteer rescuers who are not only tired but struggle with the psychological trauma associated with the gruesome sights they encounter. Not only are search and rescue organizations in the state overwhelmed, but they are also extremely under-funded. Most search and rescue organizations operate on a very tight budget with only volunteer rescuers being called into incidents. These volunteers often have other jobs and cannot make it on every call especially when backcountry incidents are increasing at such an alarming rate. With the above being stated, now it is more important than ever to support your local search and rescue organizations with donations, state legislation to support their efforts, and making wise choices while in the backcountry.