Safety First

Garfield County Search and Rescue President Tom Ice on Summer Preparedness

How did you become involved with search and rescue?

Ice: In 2004 a friend mentioned that he was a member of the Search and Rescue team, and invited me to a training meeting. I attended and met a lot of very nice people who shared some of their experiences, which piqued my interest further.  

What are the most common mistakes made by summertime adventurers?

Ice: Terrain, elements, and under-preparedness initiate most of our calls. Do some research on the area you’ll be recreating in. Weather, snow, water and trail conditions, route familiarization, and having the proper gear is crucial. Always let somebody know where you’re going and when you’ll return.

Are any areas of Garfield County especially prone to accidents?

Ice: Hanging Lake for injured and exhausted hikers; it will be interesting to see how the new permit system affects our calls there. Flat Tops for ATV, snowmobile, and vehicle accidents. Colorado River for boating and fishing accidents. Boy Scout Trail and Forest Hollow for mountain biking accidents.

What's your top advice for summer safety?

Ice: Bring the 10 essentials: compass/map/GPS; headlamp with batteries; sun protection (clothing/sunglasses/sunscreen); first aid and your medications; knife/multi-tool; multiple means to start a fire; shelter; extra food; extra water; extra clothes. Also, a cell phone or personal locator beacon.

What are the greatest joys and challenges of leading a search and rescue team?

Ice: My greatest joy comes from working and training with our membership to attain a high skill level in many aspects of search and rescue. We have members qualified in rope rescue, swiftwater, ATV, snowmobile, ground/air search, K-9 disciplines, and performing hoist operations with the National Guard helicopters. We manage to have a good time in some very trying and sometimes miserable situations. So, the short answer is the people on our team are usually a joy to be around. I joined to help people in need, but stayed for the camaraderie and adventure. Though we have always completed the missions we have been called out for, our biggest challenge is maintaining a core group of very active members who are willing to train hard, maintain mission readiness, and respond at a moment’s notice—usually in less-than-desirable weather conditions. Sound appealing to you? Contact me at

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