Search and Rescue Teams Put Their Skills, Training To The Test in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Mar 2, 2019, 8:44 PM | Updated: 9:31 pm

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – Volunteers on Utah’s Search and Rescue teams spend thousands of hours each year on rescue missions. Two teams of those volunteers were up Big Cottonwood Canyon Saturday, putting their skills to the test.

It was part of a required recertification process they have to pass every four years, both in the winter and the summer.

With snow shoes on their feet and heavy loads of rescue equipment on their backs, fourteen search and rescue volunteers headed up in the mountains in search of four victims, supposedly trapped in an avalanche. The rescue was fake, but the winter conditions were very real.

Search and rescue team member, Stephen Smith, said it is harder than it looks.

“The snow is super deep. All your footing is loose all the time and everything requires more effort. Plus we’re carrying all this stuff on our back and we’re having to be concerned with the patient the entire time as well.”

Salt Lake County Search and Rescue Commander, Wayne Bassham, said it’s all part of the job they are there to do.

“We have people that are buried. We have victims. We have medical situations that they will have to attend to. And our job is to locate those individuals in the avalanche and bring them down safely like we would do on any other mission.”

The victims were actors and evaluators came from other search and rescue teams in the region.

They’re part of the Mountain Rescue Association, a group that provides search and rescue at no charge to individuals across north America.

“The hours that it takes to prepare this situation, the hours that it takes to train, and the fact that we can bring closure to people’s families and bring people back to one another… It’s what the MRA is all about,” said Bassham.

He said the MRA spent 126,000 hours on rescue missions in the United States and Canada last year.

Training, testing, and keeping their skills sharp is critical. Last year, the Salt Lake County Search and Rescue team alone spent almost 75 hundred hours on real search and rescue missions.

The volunteers say the test was tough, but it was a success. Commander Wayne Bassham says he’s proud of his team and he considers them family.

“Its nice to know that we have all these volunteers in the state of Utah that are willing to give up their time and their effort to provide services at no charge to the public,” said Bassham.


KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(Salt Lake City Police Department/Twitter)...
Josh Ellis

SLC police investigating fatal auto-pedestrian crash

Police say one person has died following an auto-pedestrian crash near 1200 West and 600 North.
10 hours ago
Utah Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, wants to create better criteria for issuing Amber Alerts, saying "o...
Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Does the state of Utah issue too many Amber Alerts?

If you tend to ignore notifications about Amber Alerts because of their frequency, you may not be alone.
10 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Josh Ellis

Two killed in Taylorsville shooting; police searching for suspect

Police say two men were shot and killed at a Taylorsville apartment complex late Monday night, and officers are still searching for the suspect.
10 hours ago
Shara Park

How a Utah bill would put cell phones, smart devices on hold in the classroom

Utah could soon be the first state with a law restricting cell phone and smart watches on students in K-12 classrooms. KSL spoke with teachers and students at a Utah high school with a no-phone policy already in place to see what they think.
1 day ago
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: The ‘most used’ photos to catfish victims in romance scams

KSL Investigator Matt Gephardt shows us some of the most widely used photos in romance scams and how we can protect ourselves.
1 day ago
Matt Rascon

Plant is likely to blame for 19 elk deaths in Mapleton, DWR says

A certain plant is likely to blame for the deaths of 19 elk found in Mapleton over the span of a week, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said Monday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Search and Rescue Teams Put Their Skills, Training To The Test in Big Cottonwood Canyon