Jackson, Wyoming’s, Teton County Search and Rescue, received their fewest call-outs ever over the 2019-20 season. The six-month report from December 1, 2019, to May 31, 2020 details 18 rescues, and they recorded one fatality, the least since 2010. This was the quietest the organization has been ever in their 27-years.
- Related: Teton County Search and Rescue Team Release Winter 2019 Report | Least Fatalities in 6-Years
The rescues which TCSAR attend were life-saving, with eight helicopter operations, including four short-hauls. Over the time period, they responded to 31 total calls for emergency dispatch, compared to 58 at the same time last year. The organization hopes that preventative education is what has made an impact. TCSAR is dedicated to educating the public and their volunteer team with different initiatives; from Backcountry Zero, regular team training, and resources to help keep the Teton Country community safer.
The last few months have been strange in general so this could have had an impact on the low numbers. The foundation has had to mitigate the risks of COVID-19, for example, group training was canceled from March 13-June 13, and during call-outs, team members were required to wear personal protective equipment.
When I go to the TCSAR hangar for a call-out these days, the normal hugs, high fives and back slaps seem like a distant memory, but the focus of being a good teammate remains at the forefront of everyone’s mind. We check in on each other’s families, the workplace and how often we’re able to get out into the backcountry. We review our protocols monthly to keep our volunteers and our patients as safe as possible.
– Stephanie Thomas TCSAR Foundation, Executive Director
The report mentions a collaboration with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort where they tracked backcountry users using the gates. These gates are when people access the backcountry via a ski resort boundary, though designated spots. The gate surveys reveal skiing and snowboarding habits and The Backcountry Zero program is one of the limited organized efforts in the U.S. which gathers backcountry-skiing data from at a ski area. TCSAR surveyed 810 people from 339 parties during the coronavirus-shortened 2019/20 winter season.
The TCSAR report can be downloaded for full details.