EC Paramedics responds to more than 5800 requests for service annually and covers approximately 1692 square miles, including most of Eagle County and the eastern portion of Garfield County. The bulk of this territory is considered backcountry and wilderness area, including large swaths of the White River National Forest. In 2015, in order to provide care in more lcoations, EC Paramedics expanded its Advanced Life Support (ALS) service by adding a search and rescue (SAR) paramedic program.
Modified from similar programs in Summit and Grand counties, EC Paramedics launched the SAR paramedic program on June 30, 2015, as a way to serve the unique needs of our active mountain community. The SAR program received its first call for service that very day. Since then, SAR medics have been deployed on hundreds of calls; the majority of call-outs are for patients with orthopedic trauma. SAR medics respond to everything from snowmobile, ATV and paragliding accidents, as well as avalanches and other unique situations.
Vail Mountain Rescue Group (VMR) is the local volunteer team responsible for all search and rescue operations in the unincorporated areas of Eagle County and works under the jurisdiction of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. Separate from VMR and the fire department, our SAR program is made up of 10 full-time paramedics who specialize in wilderness medicine. Our SAR team allows both EC Paramedics and VMR to bring a higher level of medical care to patients they respond to on a daily basis.
While the technicality of the rescue is the responsibility of VMR, SAR paramedics support VMR by handling medical care. SAR paramedics are able to do an advanced patient assessment, which improves decisions on how to best move a patient. They can also give pain medications, greatly improving a patient’s comfort level during what typically is a long trip out of the backcountry, often with severe injuries.
The Colorado high country is a fun place to enjoy and explore, but when things go wrong, EC Paramedics is proud it can make a real difference in the level of medical care patients are able to receive on-site and in transit, no matter how remote the location.