El Paso County Search and Rescue: Neighbors helping neighbors

Val's Ventures

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — A group of local volunteers is doing more than just giving back to the community. Members of the El Paso County Search and Rescue save lives on a weekly, even daily basis.

This group is giving the term neighbors helping neighbors a new meaning.

“Knowing that you have that life line to call, and being a part of that being able to help people in that way, I think is just a really incredible thing. And it’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun,” said Dee Auciello, a trainee with El Paso County Search and Rescue.

That life line is El Paso County Search and Rescue. All the teams made up of, for lack of better words, average Joes. Everyone involved is a citizen volunteering their time to train for a range of search and rescue missions.

“Doing difficult things that are meaningful, you know rescuing and searching for people that need help, all those things attracted me to it and seemed like it would be worth the sacrifice in time and energy,” said Adam Rezner, a trainee with El Paso County Search and Rescue.

The organization specializes in a range of missions from rescuing lost or injured hikers to skiers caught in an avalanche to helping with disaster response.

“It’s important to learn how to repel because we’re a high angle rescue team and then be able to self rescue so you don’t become a patient so you can help others more effectively,” said Auciello.

During this eight week course, they spend three days a week training and studying. Already in the first few days of training, they’re learning individual rope skills where they practice repelling themselves down the side of a mountain. Eventually they’ll train to do this as a group while carrying down someone in a stretcher like they would on a search and rescue mission.

It’s a big commitment for these volunteers. They train and even go on rescue missions all in their spare time. Unlike other volunteer gigs they always need to be ready for an emergency mission.

“It’s a lot of work and then obviously you’re on call all the time once you’re a full member,” said Auciello. “It’s not just us obviously. I’ve got a wife, she has to be on board, my employer has to be on board. I’ve got two young kids. But I’ve got a lot of support from those people,” said Rezner.

If you ever need help from El Paso County Search and Rescue, there’s no charge. They are certified through the international Mountain Rescue Association and works under the Sheriff’s Office. The organization relies on volunteers and donations to keep their mission alive.

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