© 2024 KPCW

Spencer F. Eccles Broadcast Center
PO Box 1372 | 460 Swede Alley
Park City | UT | 84060
Office: (435) 649-9004 | Studio: (435) 655-8255

Music & Artist Inquiries: music@kpcw.org
News Tips & Press Releases: news@kpcw.org
Volunteer Opportunities
General Inquiries: info@kpcw.org
Listen Like a Local Park City & Heber City Summit & Wasatch counties, Utah
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Summit County Search and Rescue new data show who makes most emergency calls

A Search and Rescue sign posted during a mission in 2019.
Summit County Search and Rescue
A Search and Rescue sign posted during a mission in 2019.

SAR averaged one call every four days, according to new data from 2023.

In 2023, 94% of rescue calls came from people who live outside Summit County.

About 70% lived elsewhere in Utah and 24% resided outside the state, according to the Summit County Search and Rescue data.

The nearly all-volunteer force responded to 90 calls last year. Three quarters of those missions were on public lands and one quarter on private lands.

Calls peaked in January and August, with 23 and 20 calls respectively. Rescuers say August is usually the busiest time of year.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office provides the service but doesn’t receive state funding for it.

“So the state requires the sheriffs to conduct this, but they don't give them any money to do it. So that means that the volunteers then have to foot the bill for their own equipment,” said Canice Harte, a county councilmember and volunteer rescuer. “And just think about how much a Gore-Tex coat costs, or something like an insulated puffy coat or some boots.”

Summit County Search and Rescue has 48 volunteers.

The nonprofit Friends of Summit County Search and Rescue raises money to help.

“[Friends of Summit County Search and Rescue has] been providing things like radios for the team members, jackets, uniforms, really anything that the team identifies they need to execute the mission,” Harte said.

Now a bill passed in Utah’s 2024 legislative session could bring more funding to Summit County Search and Rescue.

House Bill 236 allows the county to levy a sales tax that can be used for search and rescue as well as emergency medical services, waste disposal, law enforcement, fire protection and avalanche forecasting.

The Summit County Council hasn’t said whether it will consider implementing the sales tax, but it would mean property owners share the cost of EMS and rescue missions with tourists.

Harte told KPCW he’d also like to explore using hotel room tax revenue to fund emergency response, but state law doesn’t allow that yet.

Corrected: March 6, 2024 at 7:31 PM MST
A previous version of this article incorrectly said volunteers are compensated for their time. Volunteers instead donate their time and frequently their own equipment to missions.
Related Content