A military-grade utility terrain vehicle and a person ATV wait to begin the Search and Rescue training mission below Black Butte in the Gravelly Mountains. PHOTO BY HANNAH KEARSE

Madison County Search & Rescue

New Programs, new equipment & new training

Summer is upon Madison County, which means people are taking advantage of the blue skies in the backcountry. But one must never assume to know what Montana’s fickle weather will bring or mazes her forests can create.

Every year Madison County Search and Rescue have to rescue lost, injured or trapped adventurers. The group of volunteers, with a range of skills, embark on these missions with confidence and leadership. But it takes practice, and it is important that they have the tools they need to be sufficient. Individuals or groups who find themselves in need of SAR can also contribute to the success of a rescue mission.

The Madison County Sheriff ’s Office often works with SAR’s personnel and equipment to respond in the backcountry. Madison County’s tax dollars support the volunteer service. A single mill that brings $146,959 of funding is divided between the Ruby Valley Search and Rescue and the Madison Valley Search and Rescue. This goes toward equipment, training, transportation and missions.

Madison County SAR added two military-grade utility terrain vehicles and a youth program to its fleet. The two tan UTVs came from a program that gives federal military surplus to SAR teams. The Madison County Board of Commissioners requested the vehicles and they were given to the county’s SAR.

The youth program was jumpstarted on the commitment of one 16-year-old, Henry Sutton. Sutton joined a Madison County SAR training in the Gravelly Range July 11. The training worked on locating and rescuing two different scenarios. SAR members collected geographic information and potential medical concerns in the simulated rescue mission. They split up into teams and sped off in a cloud of dust toward their rescued destination.

It was a successful practice mission for both teams.

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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