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Search and rescue groups urge extra precaution

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“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 4/6/20

According to the Billings Gazette, Jeremy Kopp, captain with the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and commander for the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue—a SAR veteran of 10 years—is urging people to take “the mom test” before picking and executing any outdoor and backcountry expeditions. “If your mom would approve of your outing, you’re probably good to go,” Kopp told the news outlet. Of course, state search and rescue teams always encourage the highest degrees of safety and preparation before taking risk in the great wilds of Montana, but the need to do so is especially true when SAR teams are made vulnerable by gathering, potentially spreading COVID-19 to one another—and subsequently, to respective family, friends and communities. The article highlighted a recent outing in Stillwater County, where a man fell 50 feet into a boulder field. The ensuing rescue mission required seven agencies working over 12 hours, and included a helicopter; many involved felt it was the most-technical rescue they’d ever been a part of. Such strains on SAR and medical teams and facilities, especially in Gallatin County that bares the No. 1 rank for confirmed cases and annual rescue needs, is unnecessary and frankly lacking in consideration of others. “Be healthy, take care of yourselves, but pick the more conservative outing for now,” Kopp told the Billings Gazette. “And that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to come get you if things go bad. But we want you to recognize when we do we are putting our volunteers who have lives and professions of their own at risk, at increased risk, during this time when we’re combating the COVID epidemic.”

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