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CMU partners with Mesa County Search and Rescue to prepare for saving lives

Possible unprecedented spring runoff inspires specialized water trainings on campus

Grand Junction –The Mesa County Search and Rescue officials watched snow fall on the Grand Mesa in volumes not seen for years. With snowpack over 100 percent, and April snowstorms adding to winter accumulations, Mesa County rescue volunteers are hoping for the best but preparing at CMU for what could be a dangerous runoff season.


CMU Outdoor Program Director Ryan Dutch is excited for what spring will bring in terms of outdoor recreation opportunities, but is glad to see the partnership training occur.


“Having a ready and able search and rescue team is an important part of a robust and healthy outdoor recreation culture,” said Dutch. “From backcountry safety to best practices on the river, we teach safety to our students and community, but with this kind of runoff risk we can’t be too careful.”


Geoff Mattson is the one of the training coordinators for Mesa County Search and Rescue and believes that few other facilities can offer the training environment provided by CMU. The El Pomar Natatorium is one of the premier aquatic facilities in the western United States containing over 800,000 gallons of water. He communicated that the training was another example of CMU supporting community organizations in ways that people might not typically hear or think about.


"CMU is offering their world-class facility at a discount in order to provide a service to the community," said Mattson. "While nothing can fully prepare our swimmers for the torrents of the Colorado river, we can use the facilities' size and convenient location to prepare our rescue swimmers for what could be a possible flood year."



The ongoing training occurs alongside the university’s ongoing partnerships with the Grand Junction Police Department as well as the Grand Junction Fire Department, who recently conducted fire suppression testing at the University Center building in December 2018.


“President Foster established an expectation that we do all that we can to assist and coordinate with first responders in our community," said CMU Director of Campus Recreation Lynn Wilson, who manages the Maverick Center, which hosts the natatorium. "Allowing the use of our facilities for search and rescue training is a small thing we can do to make big improvements to public safety as the snow melts in the coming weeks.”


Media and the public who are interested in observing the trainings may watch in the facilities viewing gallery and should contact [email protected] for a training schedule.


Written by David Ludlam