GO FIND!

A story of rescuing and being rescued

 

Tasha is a black lab who was trained by Marquette native Susan Purvis to find people trapped beneath avalanche snow and ice in Colorado. (Photos courtesy of Susan Purvis)

 

By Megan Emily
How does a girl from a tiny town in the U.P. wind up jumping out of a helicopter onto a 13,000-foot mountain to find a plane crash victim’s body with the help of her search and rescue dog? It sounds impossible, but that’s exactly the situation in which readers find Susan Purvis in the first pages of her newly released memoir, Go Find.
When she graduated from Marquette Senior High School in 1980, Purvis never dreamed her career would take her to Crested Butte, “the last great ski town in Colorado,” or that she would become one of the top search and rescue (SAR) dog handlers in the nation. She was just a small-town girl looking for an adventurous way to earn a living, and she first found it in the jungles of the Dominican Republic.
There, Purvis worked as a gold exploration geologist alongside her husband. The couple split their time between work in the DR and a home in the U.S. (She likes to joke that “I was commuting 2,000 miles to work!”) Eventually, they bought a home in Crested Butte, Colorado, which is famous for its ski resorts. Purvis had often skied at Marquette Mountain and soon landed a second job with the Crested Butte Ski Patrol.
“I like to say I had one foot in the mud and one foot on the snow,” she said.
That snow had the potential to be dangerous—even deadly. The mountainous slopes that make Crested Butte great ski country are also prone to avalanches. Not long after Purvis joined the ski patrol, she heard a story of an avalanche that buried three young children across near the resort where she worked…

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