MANTI—For 54 years, volunteers with Sanpete Search and Rescue have been saving people in all kinds of tricky situations and challenging conditions, be it deep snow, thin ice, a dangerous cliff or under water.
And every year on April 1 (April Fool’s Day), they take over KMTI in Manti to raise money for equipment and training. Last Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the volunteers clowned around while doing the announcing, reading commercials, playing music, and reading news and weather.
This year, $35,963 was raised from an auction of donated items, selling of Search and Rescue “swag” and donations.
Beau Lund, Search and Rescue commander who is also an employee for KMTI, encouraged listeners to visit the booths at locations throughout the county to purchase the popular “swag.”
“We went a little old school this year,” he said.
There were two different shirt designs on sale. One was similar to the rock band ACDC logo and the other resembled the GI Joe logo.
Sgt. Jayson Albee with the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office is the liaison for the Search and Rescue and was very pleased with the day and the generosity of the community.
“It was absolutely amazing to see the continued support for Search and Rescue from our county,” he said. “It is very humbling to witness such generosity year after year.”
Albee wants to thank the community and the Search and Rescue volunteers who give so much to make Sanpete County such a great place to live, work, play and visit.
Last year was one of the busiest years in the back country ever, Albee said. “Everyone was ready to get out of their homes and outdoors [due to the pandemic],” Albee said. “They came to our backyard to play.”
Albee said that he works with an amazing group of individuals. His biggest fear for the group is their safety when out on calls. He said that he knows they can do the job right; he just wants them to do it safely.
“The members of our team play like they work,” he said. “They are the best of the best. That is what makes working with them so fun.”
A story that Lund and Albee talked about from the past year showed the lighter side of Search and Rescue operations.
They received a call from dispatch informing them of a couple that needed help off the Skyline Drive towards Blue Lake above Ferron.
“When dispatch said where they were, I laughed and questioned if they really knew their location,” Albee said.
Dispatch reconfirmed the location and said that they had definite coordinates of the couple’s location.
Both Lund and Albee were sure there was no way anyone could get a vehicle down that road. They said it wasn’t a place where even a four-wheel-drive vehicle should be.
“When dispatch told us it was a Prius, I knew that this was not possible,” Lund said.
As the two got to where the road linked with the Skyline Drive, they unloaded the side by side and started down the trail. That is when the two knew that they were indeed headed in the right direction. About every 100 feet, there was another piece of the Prius in the trail.
“When we reached the stranded couple, they were not prepared to spend the night on the mountain [and] their car was no longer in running condition,” Albee said.
Lund said that it was one of those things that just when you think you have seen it all, you’re wrong.
Another memorable story from the past year was where several other agencies had to combine with the Search and Rescue.
An 11-year-old boy and his dad were near Miller’s Flat looking for elk when they became separated. Sanpete Search and Rescue, the Division of Natural Resources and local law enforcement, along with their dogs, established an incident command system, which provides the incident commander with a clear framework to help structure, organize and manage an emergency.
After a long night of searching the mountain and just before daylight, the young man was found.
“Something that could have had a bad outcome turned out to have a happy ending due to the hard work of several departments,” Albee said.
Search and Rescue operations don’t have a schedule; they happen at the most inopportune moments. Lund said that there is always an impact on family and a huge sacrifice for those who volunteer their time.
“Our hats are off to our volunteers,” Lund said. “When the call comes, they drop everything in order to help anyone and everyone.”