$3,042 – Teton County Idaho Search and Rescue
The Community Foundation of Teton Valley was honored to award a $3,042 grant to Teton County Idaho Search and Rescue to purchase four dry suits to provide more of its responders with the required level of personal protection to safely and effectively respond to water-related emergencies. The Community Foundation supports ensuring that our first responders have the necessary equipment to execute safe and efficient rescues in the field.
Teton Valley has experienced a huge increase in recreational activity along the Teton River, especially along the Bates to Big Eddy corridor. The community can attest to overly crowded river access sites and busy waterways and at times the river evokes a party-type atmosphere. In the summer of 2021, according to Friends of The Teton River, Teton County performed vehicle counts to estimate more current use numbers, employing a methodology comparable to the 2018 Henry’s Fork Foundation (HFF) study. The study estimated approximately 66,000 river users from Memorial Day to Labor Day in 2021, a 28% increase from the 51,000 users estimated for 2018. The simple fact that more people are participating in activities along the Teton River will lead to more injuries, emergencies, and rescues. As another sign of the increasing recreational activity in the valley, Teton County Idaho Search and Rescue calls for assistance in 2021 were 173% of the previous 4-year average. The types of potential call-outs expected along the Teton River depend on the section of the river, time of year and/or weather, and preparedness. In late spring/early summer, the snowmelt and runoff add an extra level of concern. As the river rises, the water moves faster and the distance between the water level and many of the bridges becomes impassable. All scenarios get compounded when the weather turns inclement, and that’s typically the setting when assistance is requested from Teton County Idaho Search and Rescue.
To that end, Teton County Idaho Search and Rescue sought additional protective gear when it deploys rescue teams to water-related training and emergencies. Teton County Idaho Search and Rescue training days and emergency missions consist of spending long hours in and out of the water as they practice for all the scenarios and assume the team will be called out in inclement weather. Even on warm days, extended exposure to the river’s cold waters can quickly lead to hypothermia. It is Teton County Idaho Search and Rescue’s duty as a team to ensure the safety of its volunteers first and foremost. With proper protective equipment, they can properly and safely conduct training within the river that can closely emulate real-life rescue scenarios. Expanding its sizes of dry suits makes water rescue training accessible to more volunteers, which means the team can be better prepared to respond to callouts along the Teton River.
Teton County Idaho Search and Rescue currently has access to 6 extra-large dry suits. In the fall of 2021, TCISAR welcomed 10 new highly qualified members to its team of volunteers. 7 of these new members are women and would not be able to safely use our existing dry suits because they are too large. This grant will be used to purchase four NRS Ascent SAR Dry Suits in sizes specific to its smaller framed team members. This will allow for 10 volunteers to train at a time and will increase the potential for more of our team members to be able to respond to water-related emergencies. These specific suits are suited for SAR-type missions, equipped with extra reflective taping and extra reinforcement in high-use areas. Upon receipt of the dry suits, Teton County Idaho Search and Rescue team members will be trained in the proper donning, use, and care of the suits.
With the increase in outdoor recreational activity in Teton Valley, the Community Foundation commends the important work of Teton County Idaho Search and Rescue and its efforts to secure the appropriate equipment to safely provide its important public service to the community.