The first sign of trouble was the EMS truck driving by our house.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the flashing lights.

“An EMS truck just drove by coming from the west, that seems weird.”

The first thing that crossed my mind was a fire. But I didn’t see or smell smoke.

Then, sirens. They seemed to be coming from the canyon, but then they got louder and louder.

I went to my tried and true source to find out what was going on — the Canyon Conditions Facebook Forum.

“Anyone know what’s going on in the canyon — I saw an EMS truck going west.”

“I’m listening to Broadcastify, and I think there’s something happening on Cougar Run.”

Cougar Run? That’s our neighborhood. I started walking down the road and sure enough, there were 6-7 vehicles — EMA, Fire, even Rocky Mountain Rescue. The Rocky Mountain Rescue trucks seemed particularly perplexing.

Initially, I thought it was a medical problem with one of my neighbors. But Rocky Mountain Rescue helps out with technical rescues in rugged terrain. Usually, they can be found in Boulder Canyon assisting with a climber who has fallen. Or maybe a missing hiker at Brainard Lake.

Rocky Mountain Rescue is unique, consisting entirely of men and women who volunteer their team to assist with rescues  in the mountains of Colorado. These people can get calls in the middle of the night and they respond with precision and urgency to save people’s lives. As the primary rescue agency for Boulder County, they are extremely busy during the summer months.

The charge for their services — nothing.

When the helicopter circled overhead landing just east of us, I started thinking something really bad had happened. Once, right after the Cold Springs Fire, I had walked the area behind my neighbor’s house when we were looking for a lost dog. I knew how steep the terrain was. One misstep and a person could end taking a tumble.

Having worked at Rocky Mountain National Park as a Park Ranger, I knew it just took one lapse and disaster can ensue. One year, while working the visitor center during a slower day, I checked out some of the books at the bookstore. “Death, Despair and Second Chances in Rocky Mountain National Park” caught my eye.

It detailed all the extraordinary incidents and accidents that occurred during the park’s history. What I expected was to read the gory details about climbers falling off the Diamond at Longs Peak. Instead, I read about children hiking on trails near Bear Lake, slipping on a rock and falling down the hillside. Haven’t we all had a lapse where we stopped watching the trail, and our ankle turned?

Turns out my fears were not that far on the mark. My neighbor had been driving his tractor and it overturned falling down the embankment. Fortunately, for him, a family member called 911 and rescue services responded within minutes. I was told by a family member, he will make a full recovery.

Watching the rescue workers respond reminded me of how grateful I am to first responders. Each one rolled up, masks covering their faces, and didn’t hesitate to get to work.

We’re very fortunate in Nederland to have these brave men and women to depend on what calamity strikes.