Donated helicopter will help San Miguel Co. authorities with SAR, firefighting

SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, Colorado – Thanks to an anonymous donor, the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office now has a new Airbus H-125 helicopter which can assist in search and rescue as well as firefighting missions.

The Airbus H-125 is mainly used for high altitude operations. It is the only type of helicopter that has landed and taken off from Mount Everest at 20,029 feet – a title it won in 2005 and still holds today. This mission broke the record for landing and taking off at the highest altitude.

“This is a valuable and much appreciated new asset,” said San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters. “When we need air resources, we need them as soon as possible. This will help us better respond to emergencies that require aircraft and allow us to help other regional agencies that may need them.

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Because the helicopter is fast, nimble and simple to operate, according to Airbus, it is used by law enforcement in 30 counties, including the United States. The cabin inside is wide and unobstructed, meaning it can accommodate up to six passengers or up to four when configured for emergency medical transport, plus one or two pilots .

It can also carry a Bambi Bucket System, which is a specialized bucket that can fill with water for aerial firefighting. It can drop about 210 gallons of water each time it flies over a fire, according to Airbus.

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In the same announcement On Tuesday, Masters asked backcountry explorers to get their Colorado Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card.

These cards provide reimbursements to search and rescue teams — whose staff is mainly made up of volunteers — for the costs incurred in the field and to finance the related equipment. Without COSAR funding, these dollars would come out of the volunteers’ pockets. That includes the price of an aircraft requiring rescue, which is typically more expensive, according to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

The one-year card costs $3 and a five-year card costs $12. The card is not insurance and does not reimburse individuals or pay for their medical treatment.

In Colorado, anyone rescued by an all-volunteer search and rescue team will not face charges for their rescuebut they are responsible for medical care by ambulance personnel and medical transport, whether by ambulance or helicopter.