PORTLAND, Ore. — The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and Portland Mountain Rescue on Wednesday met and reached a “mutual agreement in principle” on a closer relationship between the two organizations.
Earlier this month, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said he planned to create his own volunteer search and rescue team instead of continuing to work with four volunteer organizations for rescues. Roberts said he made the decision because of a lawsuit and recommendations in a recent study.
The decision to create a new rescue team would have effectively ended the working relationship between the sheriff’s office and PMR, which is the primary rescue organization for Mount Hood rescues.
“When there's a mission on Mount Hood, right now we're the only unit that can respond," PMR rescuer Mark Morford told KGW earlier this month.
Wednesday’s meeting came one day after a climber fell and died on Mount Hood. Portland Mountain Rescue found the man and notified the sheriff's office that the climber had fallen. The climber later died and his body was recovered.
Details of the agreement were not released. The sheriff’s office and PMR each released statements, along with this joint statement:
“After a productive discussion this morning, we’re excited to announce a mutual agreement in principle on general terms for a closer relationship between Portland Mountain Rescue and the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. We all believe this arrangement will improve safety on the mountain. This partnership will strengthen our existing integration of personnel and resources, and will make planning and mission response more efficient.”
PMR is a volunteer organization made up of about 75 specially trained rescuers, plus support staff. It is recognized as one of the leading rescue units in the country.
“The concepts we have negotiated will move Portland Mountain Rescue toward becoming a unit of Clackamas County Search and Rescue,” PMR said in a statement. “At the same time, it will preserve attributes of Portland Mountain Rescue we believe are critical to successful mountain rescue. We are looking forward to working out the details of this arrangement with the Sheriff and building a stronger joint team.”
Sheriff Roberts called the agreement “a significant milestone.”
“Mt. Hood is one of the most-climbed mountains in the world, and it takes a highly specialized team like Portland Mountain Rescue to accomplish these often dangerous rescue missions safely,” Roberts said. “I look forward to continuing this discussion and working with Portland Mountain Rescue as we carry on our shared mission: saving lives.”