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Jackson Hole search and rescue missions reach potentially record-breaking territory

Teton County Search and Rescue (Per TetonCountysar.org)

JACKSON (WNE) — As of Friday, Teton County Search and Rescue had logged 80 missions, matching the total number of responses recorded in all of 2020, according to Search and Rescue Chief Advisor Cody Lockhart.

With just four months left in the year, 2021 is poised to beat the team’s second busiest year on record, 2019, when the team saw 88 missions, and potentially 2017, when there were 105.

Likewise, Grand Teton National Park reported 72 search and rescues as of Sept. 13. Thirty-four of those were major, meaning they cost the park more than $500 in overtime, hazard pay or aviation costs, according to park spokesperson C.J. Adams.

Adams said that number is similar to last year’s, but the last two years are anomalous compared with previous years. Between 2016 and 2019, he said, the tally of call outs by mid-September stood in the 50s.

Also, the national park has responded to 317 EMS calls so far this year, which is around the average number of calls for an entire year, Adams said.

One trend the park is seeing is an uptick in accidents on the Snake River. The park has 11 documented search and rescues on the Snake River so far this year.

Another significant statistic of the likely record-breaking year, Lockhart said, is the 13 “short haul” rescues in January and February. A short haul, which consists of transporting the rescued person or persons suspended by a rope beneath a helicopter, is a last resort during a rescue, Lockhart said.

Those helicopter rescues in just the first two months of 2021 double the team’s previous record of six short hauls for the entire year in 2019.

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