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Boulder search and rescue team says new headquarters badly needed

Rocky Mountain Rescue Group requested a ballot measure to help fund a new facility.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Boulder County commissioners are considering three sales tax initiatives to put on the November ballot. 

One of those taxes would support rural emergency services that aren't covered by municipalities. Agencies like fire departments, as well as search and rescue groups would benefit from it. 

"We approached the county requesting a ballot measure to help us fund a new headquarters," said Drew Hildner, public information officer for Rocky Mountain Rescue Group (RMRG). "That funding will be helpful for us, for fire departments, for other search and rescue organizations."

After 75 years of saving lives in the backcountry, RMRG said now they're the ones who need a little help. 

Credit: KUSA
Rocky Mountain Rescue Group's current headquarters in Boulder, CO.
Credit: KUSA
"Currently, we can’t fit our whole group into this space even for our trainings or meetings," said Hildner.

Their team is compromised of highly skilled, professional first-responders with technical mountaineering, and medical experience. All 73 of them are volunteers. Some have been rescuing the public for more than 40 years. Hildner said the majority of RMRG's funding comes from donations. They do not charge a fee for their services. 

He said their current building is reaching the end of its life. It has flooding and electrical problems. 

Credit: Rocky Mountain Rescue Group

"It certainly isn't very efficient and the biggest issue is it's just too small for how busy we are these days," said Hildner. "When we have our larger missions, we don't have the operational area that we need to run the logistics side of things. That makes it very difficult."

The equipment needed to rescue an injured climber from a mountain face isn't cheap, either. One 600-foot rope costs $600-$800. 

Credit: Rocky Mountain Rescue Group
Rocky Mountain Rescue Group rescues a climber who fell 100 feet while climbing the upper Ruper route on the Red Garden Wall in Eldorado Canyon State Park on July 25. The rescue took nearly eight hours.

“Sometimes in the summer, we’ll have five rescues in the day and so we need multiple vehicles to be able to execute on that and right now we don’t have the storage for that," he said. "We sometimes even kind of run out of vehicles to be able to use and are using personal vehicles to transport group gear."

He said RMRG is one of the busiest rescue agencies in the country and calls keep increasing.

"We are now regularly over 200 calls in the year. Most of those are May through September," he said. "Most of those rescues are for people that have just had a bad day and it’s not extreme athletes. It’s usually just people out hiking that get a lower extremity injury and so a lot of people feel like, ‘Oh I won’t need rescue.’ But, it’s usually hikers that we rescue and so that’s a large percentage of Boulderites.”

Hildner said their new building needs to be at least three times larger than it currently is to be more efficient, and to help them respond faster to rescue calls.  

"That's what is important to us, is coming together to help the community," he said. "We volunteered for this, to go out and help, and ultimately, save someone’s life and that’s a feeling that’s hard to beat.”

RMRG is celebrating 75 years of saving lives. They have several public events planned in September. Click here to learn more

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