While the Waldo Canyon Fire threatened the southern border of the county, it was a busy few days for the Douglas County search and rescue team.
The all-volunteer force conducted three rescues in as many days for the safe recovery of an urban mom on her first visit to Castlewood Canyon, a teenage boy who got lost on an overnight camping trip and a senior four-wheeler whose ATV got the better of him.
The first call came around 6:55 p.m. June 30 when a 35-year-old mother from Aurora called 911 to say she and her two teenage companions were lost in Castlewood Canyon State Park. Multiple teams were deployed on foot, with 23 search and rescue team members involved in the effort.
The hikers were found and returned to their car by 9:30 p.m. The trip to the park had been their first visit to Castlewood Canyon, said Paul Miller, Douglas County search and rescue team spokesman.
“I think they were just happy to see us and get back to their vehicle,” Miller said.
The next call came July 1, while a rescue team was training on Rampart Range near Devils Head. Around 11:20 a.m. they received a call about a 60-year-old ATV rider from Nebraska who was injured about 2.2 miles down the trail from Sugar Creek Road.
The man was wearing a helmet, which came off during the accident, and a preliminary field exam indicated serious injuries. The option was to take the man 2.5 miles to a road via a rough trail or hike a quarter-mile up-trail to a landing zone for a helicopter rescue, Miller said.
With the help of three fire departments, about a dozen rescue team members deployed the man on foot to a landing zone, where an AirLife helicopter took him to the hospital, Miller said. The rescue operation was cleared by 4 p.m.
“On a call like this we’re just trying to get to them and get them out,” Miller said.
The last call was July 2, when the Douglas County dispatch center received a call from a woman whose 18-year-old son lost his way during a solo camping trip on the Colorado Trail, west of Sedalia.
Despite poor cell coverage, Douglas County dispatch pinpointed his location by SPOT satellite and a rescue team deployed to Russell Ridge off Colorado Highway 67.
The hiker was found about one-half mile into the search and treated for mild heat exhaustion. The Highlands Ranch man walked out on his own.
“We always recommend you don’t go hiking by yourself,” Miller said. “Always have a map and compass, plenty of water, plenty of extra food and snacks. When you do make phone calls, there are ways for us to triangulate where your location is.”
The Douglas County search and rescue team is looking for new members and will be conducting a new membership meeting at 7 p.m., July 17, in the CSU Building at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 500 Fairgrounds Drive in Castle Rock. For more information contact Bruce Fosdick at 303-688-2751 or visit www.dcsarco.org.
The search and rescue team provides search, rescue, emergency response and outdoor safety education in Douglas County and throughout the state. Miller has been a volunteer with the team for 14 years.
“For me personally, it’s a way to give back to the community,” Miller said. “Plus I have a love of the outdoors so it’s a great combination.”