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From urban search to Baldy Peak, Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue fields two missions at once

“There's multiple times we get more than one in a day. But we haven't in a while had two happening at the same time,” says GCSSAR Commander Matt Boxmeyer.
Posted at 7:17 PM, Apr 03, 2024

BOZEMAN — On Tuesday night, Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue (GCSSAR) had to save a man via helicopter after he got stuck just below Baldy Peak. But what happens when Search and Rescue gets another call at the same time?

“We were doing a public safety academy last night. Search and Rescue was doing it at the SAR building when these calls came out,” says GCSSAR Commander Matt Boxmeyer.

He told me around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, the first call came in. An elderly woman with dementia had gone for a walk and not returned home. GCSSAR began an urban search.

“We paged out the volunteers and got a drone team, our valley search and rescue team, and the dog team,” says Boxmeyer.

As the Search and Rescue units were working hard on one mission, they got a call for another rescue around 8 p.m. A hiker had gotten lost just below Baldy Peak in the Bridger Mountains.

“They had gone down a separate ridge and kind of got into a lot of snow. They weren't prepared for the conditions—they were wearing shorts,” Boxmeyer informed me.

Search and Rescue was able to locate the man quickly, but it took about six hours to remove him from the mountain. Due to hypothermia risk, the decision was made to transport the patient via helicopter which flew down from Kalispell.

Fortunately, both people were located and brought home safely, But how did GCSSAR manage both missions at the same time?

“In our search and rescue building, our comms team, you know, we have two of everything. And so they were able to pull the maps up and start the second search,” says Boxmeyer.

He told me Search and Rescue has enough volunteers and teams to pursue around four rescues at a time, although it is very rare to see even two occur at once.

“There's multiple times we get more than one in a day. But we haven't in a while had two happening at the same time,” says Boxmeyer.

It's been around a year since the last dual incident has occurred in Gallatin County, and Boxmeyer says he hopes it remains an infrequent occurrence.

“Just make sure you know if you’re going into the backcountry, be prepared. Take plenty of food, plenty of water. Obviously, take clothing. Yesterday was warm, we're starting to see warm days, and as we start seeing warm days people are more likely to leave the jacket in the car.”