The Western Mountain Rescue Team (WMRT) operates under the Gunnison County Sheriff as the primary search-and-rescue (SAR) team for Gunnison County. The team was established in the 1960s by a group of Western students after organizing a search for a missing professor. WMRT was the first college-based, nationally-accredited Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) team in the United States and has continued to be the only collegiate team since 1987.
Team members work with several agencies including, but not limited to, local and state law enforcement, Emergency Medical Services, fire crews, the National Park Service, and other SAR operations throughout the state. WMRT is also a club of Western. As a result, the team is considered a nonprofit group under The Western Colorado University Foundation’s 501(c)(3) status. Donations cover a large portion of the team's operating budget and are greatly appreciated.
Interested and new members should be aware of the following:
- Membership is not specific to students and community members are welcome.
- Training includes classroom lectures and field training and scenarios between September and April.
- Training takes two years minimum, but new members will be called for missions as early as the second month of their first year.
- New members commonly put in more than 200 volunteer hours their first year on the team and hours only increase as team members train for higher certifications and participate more in the general function of the team.
- At times, classes and workdays are missed and normal lives interrupted, but it's a sacrifice that all members acknowledge and wholeheartedly accept.
- The team averages 40-60 calls a year.
As a club of Western Colorado University, students who join WMRT gain lifelong skills that are rarely achieved through involvement in other clubs on campus. Members have the opportunity to be an active voice on a voting board and are responsible for their personal position and developing a voice on the team.