It was in near-whiteout conditions that a Carbon County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team ventured into the Snowy Range Mountains east of Saratoga one night last December, seeking three missing snowmobilers.
“In conditions like that, you have to pretty much step on people to find them,” Jim Mitchell, president of the Wyoming All-Hazards Association, told Cowboy State Daily.
But search and rescue and the snowmobilers both had their two-way radios dialed into “307 radio”. So, it didn’t take long for rescuers to drive their snowcat to the snowmobilers.
In such situations, time can frequently make the difference between life and death, said Mitchell, who is also the emergency management coordinator for the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office. Two-way radios are a great way to shave time when every minute counts. And they’re also great in places where cell phone service can be sketchy, if there’s any at all.
To be properly outfitted for Wyoming’s wild country, it’s best to shop major sporting goods outlets for top brand, heavy-duty, two-watt radios, Mitchell said.
Some backcountry trekkers carry devices or have cell phone apps that can “ping” their general location through satellite connections, Mitchell said. Those are handy, but to guide search and rescue teams to a precise spot, nothing beats two-way voice communication.
“You can tell search and rescue what you see, what some of the landmarks and features around you are,” he said. “You can also let us know about any particular circumstances, such as ‘we have somebody here with their leg in a splint’ or ‘we have somebody here with diabetes who needs insulin.’”
Mitchell and others involved in the Be 307 Aware organization hope more outdoors enthusiast will dial into the 307 Radio frequency – particularly this time of year, as hunters start to head into the backcountry, and another snowmobiling season looms not far behind.
It all started in early 2021. That’s when Mitchell got a call from somebody from another sheriff’s office who noticed that many people – particularly out-of-staters, were packing two-way radios with them into the backcountry. But Wyoming had no common rescue frequency to tune into.
Again, that could mean scant time being wasted in dire situations, with rescuers switching through numerous channels, in hopes of stumbling across the right one.
So, the idea was born for 307 Radio, a universal channel people could tune into, enabling them to connect directly with any county search and rescue team statewide.
Tuning radios to “3” puts them on the right UHF channel, Mitchell said. The “07” programs in the proper privacy code. That code keeps the airwaves from getting cluttered with “chatter” from other radios as rescuers and those in need of rescue are trying to talk, he said.
Be 307 Aware is coordinated through the Wyoming State Search and Rescue Council, The Wyoming Office of Homeland Security and the Wyoming All Hazards Association. It is funded partly through voluntary additional payments people can make when purchasing hunting and fishing licenses or permit stickers for all-terrain vehicles.