CSRB History

Colorado Search and Rescue Board: A Brief History

By Stan Bush, CSRB Past President

For years we show no record of organized search and rescue in Colorado.

If someone was lost the nearby residents would go looking for them. In the Boulder area if a hiker or climber was lost in the mountains or overdue from a climb the guides and other mountaineers would band together and go out to bring them in. Among these were men such as Charles Hutchinson, Sr., Stuart Mace, LeRoy Holubar and Bruce Snow.

After a critical incident on Navajo Peak in December of 1946 there was considerable interest in forming an organized rescue team and a meeting was held on the 5th of March 1947 to form Boulder County Rescue. It was organized during that spring and summer; the name was changed and the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group became an official organization in the fall of 1947.

They worked as the only team in the state until the fall of 1957 when the Arapahoe Rescue Patrol was formed in Littleton. The next team to organize was the Alpine Rescue Team in Evergreen in 1959.

In addition, to these teams in the late 1950's there were numerous semi-official sheriff's groups, radio groups, clubs doing search and rescue in addition to their regular activities (i.e. the Quick Draw Gun Club) and church groups. Lack of policies and coordination resulted in considerable confusion and competition in the field.

As a result, the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group held a "Rescue and Disaster Control Conference" in Boulder on the 10th of December 1960. Dexter Brinker of RMRG served as the chairman of this one day conference. Over 160 participants from 80 agencies convened at the University of Colorado and held a workshop to improve communication and coordination.

This led, in the spring of 1961, to the formation of the Colorado Rescue Association that served as an information center and coordinating body for search and rescue through 1969.

However, there was still competition and a lack of communication and various agencies vied for 'control' of searches. The classic was a two hour argument on Rollins Pass on where to search for a missing boy while over 50 searchers waited! In July of 1966 then Governor John Love directed Adjutant General Joe Moffitt to pull all of these groups together under the auspices of the state and the Colorado Search and Rescue Coordinating Board was formed, chaired by the Adjutant General.

This organization helped to provide a sounding board, mission critique function and some policy development. It functioned for several years, but it was widely diversified in its composition with search and rescue as only one of its considerations and it was finally disbanded. However, during this time the Colorado Search and Rescue Board was formed - originally with a membership of eight men without regard for unit representation - to concentrate on the search and rescue function in Colorado. Its first meeting was held on the 17th of November, 1970 under the leadership of chairman Chuck Demarest of RMRG.

Since then, the Board has grown and evolved to be the representative organization that it is today.