El Paso County Search and Rescue finalist for national service award: How you can help them win!

There are 25 finalists altogether, and EPCSAR is one of five in the Search and Rescue category.
Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 9:18 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Whether you lose your way in the dark, twist an ankle 12,000 feet up a mountain, find yourself in a precarious situation on a rock ledge, or embarked on a misguided outing in a snowstorm -- El Paso County Search and Rescue (EPCSAR) is there to save the day!

“We’ll respond to about 200 calls a year, everywhere from the plains out east to the summit of Pikes Peak,” said EPCSAR deputy public information officer Kyle Green. “Our team is comprised of about 63 active and fieldable members. Those members are trained in the full range of missions that we could address, so everything from a multi-day search for a lost individual to an extremely technical high-angle rescue for a stuck or fallen climber.”

Green says these volunteers -- yes, volunteers! -- spend hundreds of hours a year training to be ready for any kind of emergency in the backcountry. They’re also always on call.

“The average member will spend somewhere in the ballpark of 300 hours a year in training. So we train in a classroom twice a month, we train in the field twice a month, and then those of us who handle dogs will train every Saturday morning throughout the year.

“Our average mission right now for this year lasts about five and a half hours. ... Obviously not all 63 members respond to every call, but every member is available 24/7/365, so if you’re able to go, then you do, and that’s how we’re able to execute the number of missions that we do.”

The most amazing thing about this group: they don’t get paid by an employer or the public, but do this simply to serve their neighbors.

“I think the volunteer nature of what we do is incredibly important to us,” Kyle said. “You can ask all 63 members of the team why it is they chose to be a member of the search and rescue team. You’ll get the 63 different answers. But I think the common thread you’d find amongst the myriad of answers you get is that we all have a deep-seated desire to serve our community, and what really matters to each and every member of our team is that when we get called to go on a mission, we’re often encountering folks on the worst day they’ve ever had. And if we can be a part of easing the burden of that day for them, even just a little bit, it is worth every hour that we spend training to be prepared to help that person on that day.”

And now this group who does so much to support needs some support of their own. In recognition to their incredible contributions to our community, they are now finalists for the prestigious nationwide Land Rover Defender Service Awards. There are 25 finalists altogether, and EPCSAR is just one of five in the Search and Rescue category.

“The Service Defender Awards recognizes non-profit organizations in the U.S. and Canada that are making a difference in their community,” Green said.

The winner gets a customized Land Rover and a $25,000 grant. And this is where we come in: the winner will be decided by our votes!

“A huge piece of this finalist phase of the competition is really what amounts to a popularity contest,” Green explained. “So what the community could really do to help us is every day between now and Nov. 6, go to landroverusa.com, click on the Service Defender Awards link, and go to the Search and Rescue category. Once you’re there, you can vote for El Paso County Search and Rescue using any -- or all! -- valid email addresses that you have. Each of those votes counts, and it counts every day, and the team most votes at midnight on Nov. 6 will the ones who receive the grand prize. ... People can vote each and every day with each and every valid email address that they have.”

He told 11 News what this would mean for EPCSAR if they won.

“In practical terms, what winning the Land Rover Service Defender Award would mean to our team is the ability to get the right people and the right gear deeper into the backcountry so that we can more effectively provide and execute the missions that we are called out on. That in real terms is what winning this would mean.”

So again, to help these hometown heroes, click on this link every day through Nov. 6 and cast your vote!

Tell me something good! If you have a positive story you would like for us to cover, submit it to Good News Friday by clicking here, or email it directly to lgrewe@kktv.com.