PARK CITY, UT
- The Summit County Search and Rescue team on one day might be canvassing the forest for a lost hiker. Another day team members might be rescuing an avalanche victim.
Search and Rescue, a volunteer organization that operates under the umbrella of the Summit County Sheriff's Office, has been involved in numerous high-profile operations in the Park City area as well as the vast expanses on the East Side of Summit County.
The Park City Elks Lodge on Saturday honored the Search and Rescue team with one of its First Responders of the Year awards during a ceremony at Rotary Park.
Some of the members of Search and Rescue were on hand to accept the award. Sheriff Dave Edmunds and other members of the Sheriff's Office were in attendance as well.
"We probably have the best Search and Rescue in the entire western United States," Edmunds said in an interview. "Our group is truly one of a kind."
The Search and Rescue division involves upward of 80 people. Of those, approximately 25 make up the core group. They live throughout Summit County, the sheriff said.
According to Edmunds, the Search and Rescue division typically conducts between 50 and 75 searches each year. The searchers respond to missing hikers, missing skiers, snowmobile riders who become lost and people on snowshoes who lose their way, among other rescues.
Edmunds, citing research conducted by a state sheriff's group, said Summit County's Search and Rescue division has conducted approximately 35 percent of all the searches in the state over the last 10 years.
Craig Cooper, who organizes the awards ceremony for the Elks Lodge, mentioned the Search and Rescue division's role in finding Deer Valley Resort chief Bob Wheaton after he did not return from a horseback ride in the Uinta Mountains 2010.
The Elks Lodge hands out the awards annually, but individual members of law enforcement are usually the recipients. It is rare that the group honors an entire division within an agency.