By Caleb Stento
It's been two years since Mike McLeod was elected and accepted the role of captain of the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team (OMRT). Now that his term as skipper is up, another very capable team member has been elected to take his place—Tim Pasek.
MacLeod has been on the OMRT for about six years and, after serving out his two-year term, is ready to turn in his clipboard and “put my helmet back on and do whatever it takes to get a rescue done,” MacLeod stated. “My role is pretty straight forward. I get to go back to being just a regular old rank and file member.”
The official hand-off date isn’t until Jan. 1, but Pasek said he’s now fully into the transition and doing “about 90 percent of the stuff.”
According to Pasek and MacLeod, the OMRT captain represents the team and becomes the public face and voice of the team. In addition, the captain is responsible for management, fundraising and of course incident response.
Pasek explained a lot of the captain role as being “mostly administrative type stuff. You are given an opportunity to make changes to the direction the team is going,” Pasek related. These changes can include finding innovative ways to train, to use equipment and to keep the classroom updated.
The actual rescue or incident response aspect of the job varies in intensity and frequency. “In a nutshell it’s a lot of preparation,” Pasek said. “The emphasis is on training and preparation. It’s 90 percent training and 10 percent actual incident response.”
Quite a bit of the captain's efforts also go into staying in touch with sponsors for fundraising events, the biggest of which is the annual Fourth of July Pancake breakfast.
Despite the difficulties of serving in this capacity, it seems to instill a greater measure of camaraderie in those who accept the challenge. In fact, several past captains are still members of OMRT.
“It makes for an interesting dynamic because we end up with a team with a lot of experienced people who have been in that role before and know what it takes to do it,” MacLeod explained. “It’s a big job and a huge commitment. We really ask a lot of that person.”
Everyone at OMRT is excited to have Pasek at the helm, according to MacLeod. “Tim will be the fearless leader for the next couple of years. It’s a lot to do.”
Pasek has been with OMRT for three years, one of which he spent as a trainee before becoming an official member. He has been in Ouray since 2009 and enjoys much that the outdoors has to offer: recreational climbing, skiing, hiking and hunting. For a day job, he works as a land surveyor for Bob and Pam Larson. “That’s how I bring home the bacon, so to speak,” Pasek said. Before coming to Ouray with his family, Pasek served in the United States Coast Guard; he is still a reservist.
So far, most of Pasek’s training has been “on the job.” He has taken two seminars offered by the Ouray based outfit Rigging for Rescue. Pasek has also completed level one avalanche safety training.