BOZEMAN — If it feels like you’re hearing more and more reports about the Gallatin County Search and Rescue team responding to more snowmobile incidents, that’s because they are compared to last year. And with a few weeks left in the season, they’re expecting a few more calls.
In 2020, Search and Rescue responded to 18 snowmobile calls, most of those taking place in December.
This year, Search and Rescue has already responded to over 20 snowmobile-related missions in the area.
“The vast majority is snowmobile vs. tree. Injuries that result from that extremity injury, some internal injuries. So a lot of those, the sled is immobilized and the person is pretty severely injured,” said Gallatin County Sheriffs Search and Rescue Captain Scott Secor.
While the incidents can be serious, Secor says the rescues are generally less dangerous and technical for volunteers.
“To be honest, snowmobile calls are fairly easy responses. It’s usually on ground that’s accessible. Because if they got there, we can get there,” said Secor.
“And then we use a snowbulance which is just what it sounds like, just an ambulance that goes on the snow on skis that you pull behind a snowmobile, and usually we load the patient into that snowbulance and extract them that way and usually the call itself is not very technical.”
Secor says while it can be difficult to tell during a rescue mission, he believes most of the rescue missions are coming from novices snowmobilers.
Search and Rescue anticipates a few more weeks for calls in the West Yellowstone area where the snowpack usually sticks around a little longer.
But the volunteers plan to spend most of the shoulder season prepping for what’s next.
“We always have plenty to do. Currently, we’re starting to train for the spring by getting out the four-wheelers and the side-by-sides and some equipment that doesn’t come out in the wintertime as frequently like boats and rafts, things of that nature,” added Secor.
“So we prep that equipment and train on it generally in April and train on it. It’s a good time to do that.”