Answering a Call from Zion’s First Responders

Funded: $113,000

In 2018, Zion’s world-class Search and Rescue (SAR) Team responded to 111 urgent calls for help from park guests. When distress calls from adventure-seeking visitors require Rangers to enter frigid water, scale or rappel sheer cliffs, and approach extreme conditions, Zion activates its Technical Search and Rescue Team, who save more than 100 individuals, families, and groups from treacherous situations each year. Zion’s SAR Team is constantly training and dedicates hundreds of hours to advance their expertise as responders to heart attacks, broken ankles, and life-threatening exposure in Zion’s vertical terrain.

As an integral part of their preparation, each winter the Zion SAR Team hosts an advanced training course, bringing the industry’s leading experts in technical rescue to simulate emergency situations and teach state-of-the-art skills. Without an established training facility, SAR Team Members learn new techniques and orient with advanced equipment on the rocky cliffs and gaping voids above the park, raising persistent safety concerns, cutting into valuable training time, and reducing participation as some Team Members are required to stay in the front-country so they’re ready to respond to emergency calls.

This gift to the park would allow the Zion SAR Team to fulfill the long-term vision of building two 40-foot-tall climbing/rappel towers, connected by a 60-foot catwalk, near their Emergency Operations Center. These training rescue platforms would be tucked into an administrative area of the park, out of sight from the visiting public. The addition of this facility would allow Rangers to practice lowering and raising patients requiring vertical rescue, rehearse safely reaching visitors who are “ledged out” (unable to ascend or descend), and prime SAR Team Members for use of the Norwegian Reeve, a technique used to rescue injured canyoneers in slot canyons. This gift will provide a controlled work environment for some of Zion’s most tenacious Rangers as they prepare to deliver an essential visitor service for park guests in distress.