Teton County to buy new helicopter
Wyoming’s Teton County has successfully raised US$7.25 million to acquire a full-time rescue helicopter
The fundraiser received around 2,000 donations to fund the new helicopter over the course of less than a year, according to a report by Wyoming Public Media – equating to an average of $3,625 per donation.
The aircraft is expected to arrive by October, and will primarily be used by Teton County Search and Rescue (TCSAR), an organization that provides search and rescue services in the rural US county. TCSAR has described the new helicopter as ‘mission critical’.
TCSAR previously leased a helicopter for eight months during peak seasons – winter and spring. During the other half of the year, it was reliant on the US Forest Service (USFS) to provide aerial support. If a USFS aircraft was not available, patients would typically be carried to hospital on foot or in a ground-based vehicle, which was slow and impractical.
The new aircraft will give TCSAR air rescue capabilities in all months of the year, and is expected to offer a faster and more consistent standard of service than was previously possible.
The aircraft will be used to respond to wildfires and other natural disasters, as well as to provide support to neighboring counties.
The success of the fundraising campaign comes at a time when call-outs in the county are at an all-time high. In 2022, TCSAR responded to 136 calls, roughly double the number experienced a decade prior. Demand has been driven by a mixture of skiers, mountain bikers, hunters, as well as horse and all-terrain vehicle riders.