ANNUAL REPORT 2023

Dear Friends and Supporters,

El Paso County is diverse in its topography and attracts outdoor enthusiasts that recreate on our well-traveled trails to those that venture into our more challenging terrain. Our team is prepared to respond at all times in all seasons to those in need, from the wide open plains to the summit of Pikes Peak. 

Early in 2022, our team rescued a lost hiker in harsh winter conditions near the summit of Pikes Peak. Spanning two days and involving nearly every member of our team, it was a successful mission with the hiker rescued and rehabilitated to walk down to Barr Camp. Although not all rescues have an equally positive outcome, achieving our mission to save lives, as we did with this incident, is especially rewarding.

Throughout the year, we received 212 calls for rescue or search. Of those calls, we responded to 104 incidents, with our volunteer team members donating nearly 17,000 hours of their time to incident response, training, and other duties in 2022. 

It’s important to recognize that we cannot complete our missions alone. We work cooperatively with many other agencies in our community to help those in need of our services, including the Colorado Springs Fire Department, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Manitou Springs Fire Department, American Medical Response, Barr Camp, Colorado Springs Police Department, Flight for Life Colorado, Green Mountain Falls/Chipeta Park and Cascade Fire Departments, Palmer Lake and Tri-Lakes Fire Departments, Ute Pass Regional Ambulance District, and others. 

In addition to our successful missions, we were honored to be chosen as a finalist in the Land Rover Defender Service Awards, one of just five search and rescue teams in the United States and Canada. We were ultimately awarded second place and received a generous $15,000 donation from Land Rover and Chase Bank. This donation will help fund equipment and maintenance to continue allowing us to search, rescue, and save lives.

We are incredibly grateful for the support and assistance of our partner agencies and the residents, businesses, and visitors to our beautiful region. It truly takes a village to help those in need, and we are honored to be part of that community. As we head into 2023, we look forward to the new year and the service we will enthusiastically render. 

Jay Christianson
President
El Paso County Search and Rescue

2023 RESCUE REVIEW

Calls Received
Missions
Total Mission Hours
Volunteer Hours

Average Mission Time:
3 hours 41 minutes

Busiest Day of the Week:
Saturday

Busiest Time of Day:
12:00 pm

softgoods-1

We have to maintain enough soft goods (rope, webbing, and accessory cord) to reach from the summit of Pikes Peak to well out into the Plains.

softgoods-2

On any given year, we retire about 15% of these soft goods or about 2500 ft.

carabiner

We require 300 carabiners to maintain all of our kits, edge pro, etc.

watch

On average, we spend 1/3 of our time training, 1/3 of our time on overhead, and 1/3 of our time on missions. For every hour we spend rescuing people, we spend more than two hours training and maintaining the team.

energybar

An estimated 265 stale energy bars were eaten during missions and trainings throughout the year.

2023 TOP STORIES

ISTVAN "SKEE" HIPSZKY: 50 YEARS WITH EPCSAR

EPCSAR member Istvan "Skee" Hipszky celebrates 50 years as a team member. Skee joined EPCSAR in 1973 at just 18 years of age and has contributed to thousands of search and rescue missions since. In addition to his valuable contributions as a highly qualified Field Team Leader, he is also an EMT, drone pilot, mission coordinator, instructor, and deputy coroner. A retired life-support instructor, having taught CPR, ACLS, and pediatric care in hospitals throughout Colorado Springs, Skee has also helped to educate countless children and adults in El Paso County through Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR) presenting educational lectures to schools, safety fairs, and other groups.

Skee's search and rescue journey began at 16 when he was climbing with a partner who fell from Windom Peak above Chicago Basin, sustaining a head injury. Skee and other climbers worked to bring the injured climber down the mountain and into a meadow where a helicopter could pick him up. From there, Skee was inspired to join search and rescue, donating countless hours and risking his own life to ensure others' safety.

Over the years, Skee has been part of several challenging missions. Some of these include a mission in 1995 in which Skee responded to an avalanche rescue on Pikes Peak. Four backcountry skiers triggered a slide on the east face of the mountain; Skee was flown to the summit to rescue the skiers, but a blizzard prevented the helicopter from coming back to fly him and the injured skiers out. Unable to quickly get off the mountain, Skee and the other rescuers dug trenches to help the skiers survive the blizzard. A year later, Skee performed CPR on an individual struck by lightning, saving his life. Years later, when a cadet fell off the face of Eagle Peak and was subsequently intubated by paramedics at the Air Force Academy, Skee was one of two people to perform a high-angle rescue of the patient, during which he provided breaths for the patient, ultimately saving the life of the cadet. This year, Skee was presented with the J. Hunter Holloway Spirit Award through the Colorado Search and Rescue Association for his 50 years of dedication to EPCSAR. 

EPCSAR is honored to have Skee as a member of the team and excited to celebrate his half-century of volunteerism, dedication, knowledge, and skills. Skee holds the record for the longest time on the team, and his influence continues to grow. Please help EPCSAR honor Skee and his contributions to our community and search and rescue family.

LAND ROVER DEFENDER SERVICE AWARDS FINALIST - AGAIN!

Last year, so many supported us in our quest to win a new Land Rover in the Land Rover Defender Service Awards Competition. Ultimately, we didn’t win, but we were still awarded a generous donation as the runners-up. Continuing with their incredible generosity, Land Rover offered us another chance to win a new Land Rover Defender 130 to help us in our mission to save lives.

In the Honorees Category, we faced competition from 19 other organizations that had been runners-up in previous years. The competition was fierce, and we had incredible support from the local community and throughout Colorado as we attempted to earn the most votes. After the votes were tallied, we were chosen as one of the final two teams and ultimately awarded second place and a generous $15,000 grant from Land Rover. 

2023 MISSION HIGHLIGHTS

FEB

Incident: Injured Hiker- Barr Trail

Dates: February 19, 2023

Duration: 2 Hours, 56 Minutes

Response: 33 Members

MAR
APR
MAY
JUN
JUL
AUG
SEP
OCT
NOV
DEC

FUNDRAISING REPORT

2023 FINANCIALS

%

Private Donations:
$135,306

%

Grants:
$32,281

%

Rescue Run:
$24,151

%

Other Events:
$21,000

2023 TOP MISSIONS

IMG_9186

WILLIAMS CANYON INJURED CLIMBER

On March 29 at approximately 1530, we received notification of an overdue hiker on Pikes Peak. Reports stated that the hiker had passed through Barr Camp headed uphill, but there were no reports of them having successfully reached the summit. The hiker was known to have camped near A-Frame on the night of March 28 but had not been seen or heard from since the early morning hours of March 29.

A team of four members was deployed to clear Barr Trail from the summit to A-Frame; however, blizzard conditions at the summit made that impossible. As a result, two members were deployed to hike lower Barr Trail to A-Frame, but they were unable to locate the hiker.

The next morning, teams were staged at 0500, with a team of nine members hiking down from the summit. Split into two groups, these members took parallel routes down the mountain through mixed alpine travel conditions in near-blizzard weather to attempt to locate the overdue hiker. Another team of four members was dispatched to hike up from Barr Camp to A-Frame and eventually meet the summit teams. Approximately two hours later, an additional team of ten members was dispatched to ride the Cog Railway from the station in Manitou Springs to Mountain View and then hike to Barr Camp as additional resources/evacuation team.

Shortly after 1200, one of the summit teams located the hiker near 2 Mile. The hiker was found to be in generally good health. After some rehabilitation, including food, water, and warm clothing, the hiker and both summit teams were able to hike down to Barr Camp, continue to the Mountain View station, and eventually ride the Cog Railway down to Manitou Springs, where the subject’s family was waiting.

Our longest mission of the year at 28 hours, 34 members were directly involved in the successful rescue of this hiker, with the rest of the team remaining in town on standby should additional resources be needed. In addition to our team, we had the support of the entire community as we searched. Despite the difficulty involved, the success of this mission was a positive start to the year and a great introduction for our newest members.

IMG_4810 copy

STUCK HIKERS AT 2 MILE

On July 24, a page was received at 0534 for an injured dog near Barr Camp. Having already carried his dog multiple miles down Barr Trail, the owner was concerned that his dog, Roland, would be unable to walk and would need assistance to get the dog the remaining 6.5 miles down to the trailhead. At 0551, six team members were dispatched to help with a rescue.

Accessing Barr Trail from Longs Ranch Road and Bob’s Road, members began hiking up Barr Trail towards Barr Camp. The team met up with Roland and his owner, approximately 0.5 miles from the vehicles. After a medical evaluation, it was determined that carrying Roland out via litter to the vehicles would be prudent. Roland and his owner were then driven to their car at the trailhead, with the mission ending around 0900.

Unsurprisingly, the team’s response to this mission was immense, as we all love to help our four-legged friends. Additionally, not only did we have the joy of helping these two get down the mountain safely, but post-mission, Roland found some fame as his rescue was shared by news stations and publications across the country, including People Magazine.

ORGANIZATIONAL NEEDS

WISHLIST ITEMS

RESCUE GEAR

Rescue Litter
Quantity: 31
Total Cost: $5,100.00

Vacuum Mattress
Quantity: 1
Total Cost: $800.00

Avalanche Beacons
Quantity: 30
Total Cost: $11,700.00

Scarab Rescue Tool
Quantity: 12
Total Cost: $1,800.00

K9 GEAR

GPS w/ K9 Tracker
Quantity: 2
Total Cost: $2,200.00

Multifunction Weather Meter
Quantity: 2
Total Cost: $398.00

SEARCH GEAR

Binoculars
Quantity: 4
Total Cost: $1,400.00

UAV Batteries
Quantity: 6
Total Cost: $690.00

FLIR Drone
Quantity: 1
Total Cost: $18,800.00

K9 UPDATE

This year, our K9 team grew with the addition of five new puppies/dogs. Training to be both trailing and air scent dogs, the addition of these dogs was a family affair. Three of the four puppies joined older siblings already on the team, and the fourth joined a cousin, making for a total of twelve K9 members on the team and one big happy dog family!

Throughout the year, our K9s and their handlers trained for more than 200 hours each, were involved in fifteen search missions, both in-county and as mutual aid in nearby counties, and received a combined twelve new and renewed certifications. As we look to 2023, we plan to transition our five new K9s to fieldable status and continue to grow the certifications for our current working members.

THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTERS

Adams Bank & Trust

Air Force Academy Fire Department

American Medical Response

Baxter & Smith, P.C.

Blackhat Distillery

Brain Injury Alliance of Colorado

Carrabba's Italian Grill

Cascade Volunteer Fire Department

Cheyenne Mountain Propagation Company

Chick-Fil-A

Colorado 4x4 Rescue and Recovery

Colorado Springs Commercial

Colorado Springs Fire Department

Colorado Springs Utilities

Crossfirst Bank

Cushman & Wakefield

El Paso County Public Works

El Paso County Wildland Fire

ENT Credit Union

Flight for Life Colorado

Friends of Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Fort Carson

General Air

Green Mountain Falls/Chipeta Park Fire Department

Groove Honda

Inspire Corporation

Ivanti

Keg 1 Colorado, LLC

LifeLine

Manitou Springs Fire Department

McDivitt Law Firm

Modern Technology Solutions, Inc

Monument Fire District

Mountain Equipment Recyclers

 

Olsen Plumbing & Heating

Palmer Lake Fire Department

Parsons

Penrose/St Francis Health Services

Peterson Space Force Base

Phil Long Dealerships

Pikes Peak National Bank

Pizzaria Rustica

Red Noland Auto Group

Schriever Space Force Base

Security Service Federal Credit Union

Snooze

Stanley Steemer

Tither Construction

United States Air Force Academy

Ute Pass Regional Ambulance District

Thank you for aiding us in our mission to save lives.

We look forward to serving our community in 2024.