To the quick

Hasty Team

Hasty Team members practice jumping from a helicopter into Pyramid Lake.

Hasty Team members practice jumping from a helicopter into Pyramid Lake.


Learn more about the Hasty Team here:

Leaping from helicopters, repelling off cliffs, hiking into the wilderness and negotiating white water—this is just a sample of the lengths to which the Hasty Team goes to pull off daring rescue missions in Washoe County.

Founded in 1971, the Hasty Team is a search and rescue unit of highly-trained volunteers who serve Washoe County and its neighboring areas. In 2016, the nonprofit organization, which is partnered with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department, completed 162 rescue missions and saved county residents an estimated $645,126 in tax dollars.

“We are on-call 24/7 and able to respond whenever there is an urgent need,” said Randy Malm, team member and treasurer. The roughly three dozen team members are experts in different disciplines. They’re divided into specialized teams, including backcountry, hoist (a helicopter rescue team that works with Washoe County’s Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit, a.k.a. RAVEN), technical (rope rescue), dive (underwater rescue and recovery) and swift water rescue. Members participate in hundreds of hours of training per year.

This fall has been a particularly busy time for the team. Autumn brings cooler weather and time for hiking without the summer crowds. Many people venture into the mountains this time of year and are sometimes ill-prepared for the elements.

“People want to be out in the backcountry right now and hike before the snow comes,” Malm said.

In September, team members worked 25 days of the month and responded to three different emergency calls concerning lost hikers on the 30th alone.

One woman took a hard fall near Thomas Creek and severely injured her hip, making it impossible to walk. While Hasty volunteers were making their way to her location they received another call. A trail runner had gotten lost on Mt. Rose.

“He was so far into the backcountry that RAVEN had to land a half mile away and hike to him,” said team member and rescue technician Bill Macaulay.

In the Hunter Creek area, a woman wandered far from the main trail. She wasn’t prepared or knowledgeable of the area, so she placed a 911 call. The Hasty Team located her in the backcountry and hiked her back to safety.

“Some people wait too long,” Macaulay said. “But she made the right choice to call 911 and get rescued.”

The team trains every Thursday in areas like Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe, rotating through different disciplines to ensure members are prepared for any emergency. Volunteers practice jumping from helicopters and rafting in whitewater. They train with drills like blacking out their masks, cutting off oxygen, or tying their fins together so they can’t swim.

As a nonprofit, the Hasty team relies on community donations and grants to fund its operations. One challenge is making sure their rescue equipment is up-to-date.

“As technology increases, there is all this new equipment and the cost of what we do is expensive,” Malm said. “But we want to do this job as well as we can, and we’re committed to having the right equipment and training.”

“I feel like it’s what God made me for,” Macaulay said. “This is what I am good at and have a passion for and being able to rescue people, or do recoveries and bring closure to the families, is really rewarding.”