TSCAR celebrates successful HELI-YES campaign

JACKSON, WY — After two impressive short-haul demonstrations at Snow King Mountain Thursday afternoon, Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation announced its month-long Heli-Yes fundraising campaign raised enough money to keep the helicopter flying through October.

The SAR helicopter contract runs from November to April and the Grand Teton National park helicopter doesn’t arrive until June. That means there are two months that Search and Rescue risks operating without a helicopter. But thanks to a $30,000 match grant, SAR secured their helicopter through October.

Shauna Lockhart watches the short-haul demo from the Stillwest Brewery balcony. Her husband, Cody, was part of the demonstration.

In addition to helicopter use, funds will also help SAR work with other agencies to ensure on-ground personnel is trained to operate around and near helicopters during rescues. Funds also allow Search and Rescue to increase the complexity of its training to match the challenges of rescues – training where rescues actually occur creates confidence in difficult terrain during stressful, high-stakes rescues. Lastly, money raised will be used to fully train 11 volunteers to be certified short-haulers for the team’s most tactically difficult rescues.

A curious crowd gathered at Snow King Ballpark and Stillwest Brewery Thursday afternoon to spectate. Search and Rescue volunteer/training advisor Anthony Stevens MC’d on the Stillwest balcony, explaining to the crowd just what was happening — how close the short-hauler was to the ground, when the helicopter took off again, when the “rescuee” was ready to be lifted. Notice, Stevens said, how much the helicopter moves with very little weight. It was a sobering reminder just how high-risk and high-consequence each rescue is.

Search and Rescue lucked out with the perfect weather window — the rain started again just as the second short-haul demo wrapped up. Still, supporters and donors enjoyed food and drinks from Stillwest and celebrated their success.

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