JACKSON, Wyo.—Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation is excited to announce that due to generous donations, emergency rescue helicopter service has been secured for the remainder of 2021. These extraordinary gifts mean the Foundation can hit pause on its annual Heli-Yes! campaign and instead focus on supporting a new class of volunteers and re-up team trainings that had been postponed or canceled this past year due to the pandemic.
“These donations benefit the entire community, as it allows the Foundation to ensure uninterrupted helicopter service for Teton County,” said TCSAR Foundation Executive Director Stephanie Thomas. “Heli-Yes! will continue again next year, but we are excited to be able to focus our efforts this year on supporting the new class and our wonderful volunteers.”
Part of the donations stem from the giving by Foster and Lynn Friess, who this year gave many of their friends the opportunity to select a favorite charity for their donation. Jerry Blann, former longtime president at JHMR, and his wife, Rebecca, designated their Friess gift for TCSAR’s heli program. The other heli gift came from an anonymous local donor. Combined, these gifts keep TCSAR’s heli flying at least through 2021.
The Foundation could not be more grateful for these donations, Thomas said, and reminded the community that without adequate heli funding, Teton County would not have a dedicated rescue ship during the spring and fall. Maintaining uninterrupted heli service remains one of the top priorities for the Foundation.
With heli funding secured, the Foundation is helping the TCSAR team bring on a new class of volunteers, the first time this has happened since 2015. It’s an excellent opportunity to invite fresh energy and ideas to the team while presenting some funding opportunities for the Foundation.
After starting from a pool of 150 candidates, the team is bringing on 10 new volunteers at a cost of approximately $20,000 per person. This investment includes outfitting the volunteer with essential rescue gear and equipment, as well as paying for a rigorous schedule of trainings. New volunteers must attend all trainings and then gain certifications before achieving “operational” status. The whole process takes about a year.
The Foundation also looks forward to helping current volunteers maintain and renew advanced training, which were called off last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Techniques such as technical rescue, swiftwater rescue, avalanche safety, wilderness medical training, among others, must be continued in order to empower the volunteers during complicated missions as well as keep themselves and patients safe.
To help support these efforts, the Foundation is calling on the community to pitch in. With the Jackson Hole backcountry continuing to see increased use, TCSAR volunteers remain an essential component to the health and safety of our community.
To contribute to these efforts, or for more information on how you can help, please visit www.TetonCountySAR.org/2021-spring-projects. Thank you for supporting TCSAR.