FARMINGTON -- Rain did not stop about a dozen members of the Davis County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team from a recent training session at Snake's Point in Farmington Canyon.
"When we go on a rescue, it's usually dark and stormy," said team member Steve Petty.
The team recently finished its summer and winter recertification with the Mountain Rescue Association, said Rex Mumford, commander of the 35-member, all-volunteer team.
The certification is good for the next five years, but team members still meet at least three times a month, honing skills to save a life when outdoor enthusiasts find themselves ill-equipped or unprepared for the terrain and/or weather conditions.
With the annual deer hunt just around the corner and snowmobiling season arriving shortly, the volunteers want to make sure they can do their job efficiently and quickly, Mumford said.
On Wednesday, the group practiced high-angle rope rescue techniques.
Mumford said hikers many times get stuck because "it's easier to go up than down."
But there is a disturbing trend that those who need help delay making the call because they believe they will be charged if the search and rescue team shows up, he said.
"We've never charged for a rescue and have no plans to charge for a rescue," Mumford said. "This is a service provided by the sheriff's office."
Last summer, a group of teenage hikers got into a difficult area and couldn't get out. They waited at least an hour, trying to decide what to do, Mumford said.
Several of the boys decided to take the risk and hike out by themselves. But two decided they didn't care how much it cost and called 911.
"One of the dads said after it was all over, 'You saved a life today,' " Mumford said.
Even though search and rescue does not charge, other agencies may charge for services, such as an ambulance or a helicopter, Mumford said. It depends on the agency and the circumstances.
Mumford hopes no one will hesitate to call for help, because search and rescue crews would rather rescue a person than recover a body.
With rain pouring down for Wednesday's exercise, the volunteers hiked to the top of the cliff and anchored several ropes around a tree at the top.
Steve Petty's daughter, Erica Petty, was the "mock victim." She works in the Weber State University outdoor program and "I had nothing going on today."
Erica rappelled down the cliff with spotters on the ground and by the cliff, while several other team members handled the ropes attached to the tree. She stopped halfway down the 100-foot rock face, waiting for the rescue to begin.
"OK, here's the scenario," Mumford said to the group. "We have a victim hanging semi-conscious. Michelle (Lhotak), you go down and assess the situation and see if she can lower herself or if we need the basket."
Steve Petty said the team prefers not to use a litter or stretcher if possible.
"It uses less manpower and equipment if the victim can walk out by themselves," he said.
While getting someone off the mountain fast is a good thing, safety is always considered first, Mumford said.
Lhotak hooked up to the ropes and followed Erica Petty's rope down, with team members spotting for her.
When she got to Erica, she asked how she was. Erica replied she had a broken arm.
"Can you manage to go down by yourself?" Lhotak said. Erica said she could, with help.
Luke Watkins, a team member, said going over the edge of any cliff never feels natural, even with a rope and harness. "You have to trust the rope and the team members."
Becoming a member of the search and rescue team is not difficult, but a physical exam is required. The team hikes year-round in Davis County canyons, both to become familiar with the terrain and to keep in shape.
The team receives funding from grants from United Way of Salt Lake City and Walmart, and also receives donations from people they've rescued.
The sheriff's office also provides some funding.