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The reaccreditation season is upon us

Recert Colin 1

One of the many things the Summit County Rescue Group is proud of is our status as a Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) accredited team. What that means, here in the Rocky Mountain Region of the MRA, is that we've gone through a rigorous testing process every five years in which our peers in the region assess the safety and effectiveness of our rescue procedures.

The test always takes place over a weekend, and consists of five scenarios: a search, a high angle rock rescue, a low-angle scree evacuation, an avalanche, and a winter evacuation. Evaluators from other teams all over Colorado and New Mexico set up the scenarios and act as observers; then they give the testing team feedback at the end. It's a great way for teams to learn more about what's working well for them and what could be improved. It's also a great teambuilding experience for testing teams, because of the intense training that takes place during the year before the reaccreditation.

The Summit County Rescue Group "recerted", as we call it, last May. Now it's time for our team to participate in the recerts of other teams, four of which are testing this spring: Grand County, Routt County, Douglas County and Alpine Rescue Team in Clear Creek/Jefferson Counties. Many members of those teams helped us both with our training scenarios and our recert last year, and we will be repaying the favor by setting up practice scenarios for them and sending evaluators to their recerts.

It's a great process for all of the Rocky Mountain Region teams, not just because it sharpens your game in a recert year, but also because we learn a lot attending the recerts of other teams. Every team does things a little differently. The MRA does not prescribe particular rescue techniques or procedures; it only asks that whatever we do, it is safe, efficient and effective. By sending evaluators to watch other teams perform, we pick up ideas and best practices.

Jim Koegel, a mission coordinator with our team, comments, "We changed the way we build snow anchors a few years ago because of feedback we got during a recert. We used to put four attendants on the litter, so we had to overbuild the anchor in order to hold them. It didn't make any sense to spend extra time doing this, since we really didn't need four people to attend the litter. Once we got this feedback, we changed what we were doing and it made us more efficient at winter evacuations."

We wish our fellow teams all the best during the 2010 recert season!

Photo: SCRG member Jim Levi tends a "patient" during the high angle rescue scenario of SCRG's 2009 recertification.  Photo by Colin Dinsmore.

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