“With experience, you know not to do dumb stuff. You get experience by doing dumb stuff,” Brett Davis, one of the founders of the Utah Off-Road Recovery Team, explains.
He has been doing off-road recoveries most of his life. When he was 8 years old, he talked his dad into getting a Chevy Blazer, and it was all history after that. He joined many different off-roading groups in Utah throughout his life, and he’s found that sometimes the best place to be is between a rock and a hard place.
Vehicle Search and Rescue
After being a part of many different off-roading groups, Davis started to notice that when people needed help getting out of a tough situation, things were a bit disorganized.
“One of the things that would happen is that someone gets stuck, and a thousand people volunteer, but no one takes charge. So there’s not a strategy. There are people who show up sometimes less equipped than the person who’s stuck. So then you have a second vehicle stuck, and then a third vehicle stuck. Sometimes people respond after those who were stuck are already out. It’s chaos.” he says.
In 2016, Davis and some friends recognized the need for a volunteer recovery team to help those who get stuck while off-roading. Joe Belk created a Facebook group, and Utah Off-Road Recovery Team (UORRT) was born. UORRT allowed for an official dispatch to take place along with an admin to help facilitate rescues as opposed to the “free-for-all” that it used to be for off-roaders.
One of the biggest reasons a group like UORRT is needed is because regular towing companies are not able to assist in most off-roading incidents. Off-roaders usually get themselves in serious situations that require well-equipped vehicles to help get them out. Towing vehicles at a usual towing company aren’t that well-equipped to do serious off-roading. That’s why Davis, along with other dispatchers in the group, screen the rescues before actually going out to make sure that UORRT is actually needed. The group will not take on a rescue if a towing company is able to help.
UORRT is also just a vehicle rescue team—not a person rescue team.
“We don’t want to pretend that we are medical professionals. Our job is to rescue the vehicle and not the person.” Davis explains.
However, UORRT has become so well known around Utah that the group now works with a lot of first responder teams. Many times, the first responders will do their job at helping the people who are stuck and then give UORRT a call to help get the vehicle unstuck.
Typically, the first thing that happens when someone needs help is they will message the UORRT Facebook page. They will get in touch with the admin of the page, which includes Davis and others who are a part of the group. Then, the person in need of help will send a photo of their vehicle that is stuck and describe the situation. This allows for the admin to decide if they should help them or not, along with what kind of equipment will be needed to help them. The person will also send GPS coordinates, and if they are on private property, they must get permission from the owner for the team to come and help.
After the admin gets all the information needed for the rescue, they will go to the private UORRT Facebook page and send a group message to all the members, asking if anyone is available to help. After those who can help respond, they establish all the roles the group members will play at the rescue. Someone usually is a team leader, and others take on roles of winching and other assignments. The people who are responding to the rescue will then form a separate group message so they can communicate with each other and know how the rescue is going to go. Every person in the group is trained with equipment so that when there is a rescue, there are no issues when it comes to knowing how to adequately get the vehicle out.
“We’re very protective of our reputation,” says Davis. “We have yet to have a vehicle that we could not extract and get out.”
“Sometimes people are so amazed at our kindness, but in all honesty, I sometimes feel selfish doing this. I think that it is fun using our Jeeps and equipment. We want people to get stuck so that we can play with our toys,” he jokes,
A Sense of Camaraderie
People in Utah’s off-road community have a strong sense of camaraderie. UORRT is a prime example of that.
“The fact that we have members who will, at the drop of a hat, drive 3 hours to help someone for free, speaks volumes for our community,” says Joel German, vice president of UORRT. “This doesn’t just extend to helping people in the backcountry. Many of Utah’s off-road clubs host donation drives for the less fortunate, trail clean-ups, and one group offers a scholarship for young ladies getting into trade work. I can’t imagine a better community.”
The rescue team continues to bring together many people in the off-road community.
“Not only is it fun to get stuck vehicles out, it is also just fun to serve people,” Davis says.
It is through serving other people that the members of UORRT have come close to one another. The group has also helped people to find their calling in life.
“Thanks to this group, I’ve found a passion in teaching off-road recovery and have opened a side business, Legacy Off-Road Recovery Training, teaching everything from the basics to more advanced recovery techniques,” says German.
Davis also shares his passion of off-roading with his family. They have many photos of all four of their Jeeps together, and the family spends a lot of time together going off-roading.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
There are many things in life that may make us feel like we are stuck in between a rock and a hard place. However, that seems to be the members’ of UORRT favorite place to be, quite literally. When someone gets their vehicle stuck, it can be quite frustrating and scary, especially if it’s somewhere that a towing company will not be able to get to. However, with the kindness of UORRT, there is still help available. To date, the group has performed more than 500 rescues free of charge, and that doesn’t count the hundreds of people they’ve been able to help by texting advice for getting themselves unstuck.
If you find yourself stuck while off-roading and need help, you can contact Utah Off-Road Recovery Team at their Facebook page or Instagram page, @utahoffroadrecoveryteam. If you would like to become a member of the team, you can also go to those pages and look at the requirements for joining.
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