Eagle County Paramedic Dies

Tragic Loss of a Dedicated Paramedic in Vail During Backcountry Rescue Operation

VAIL, COLORADO – The Eagle County community is in mourning following the tragic death of Steve Zuckerman, a devoted paramedic and respected member of the search and rescue team, who died in the line of duty while responding to a backcountry rescue call in Vail. Zuckerman, 61, was a full-time paramedic with Eagle County Paramedic Services, an organization now grappling with the profound loss of a man described as an invaluable part of their team and community.

“Steve was one of the helpers,” Eagle County Paramedic Services CEO Brandon Daruna expressed in a statement. “He never missed an opportunity to contribute, and his death leaves a giant void in our organization and community.” Zuckerman’s commitment to serving others was evident in his more than 25-year tenure with the Beaver Creek Ski Patrol before he began his journey as a part-time paramedic in April 2008. He transitioned to a full-time position in May 2013, consistently demonstrating his dedication to the field and those in need.

Zuckerman’s role extended beyond his paramedic duties; he was an integral part of the Search and Rescue team, a field trainer, and was advancing his skills as a critical care paramedic. His expertise and passion for medical care were also recognized on a global stage as he served as the medical director for the World Cup races held in Beaver Creek.

In a poignant reflection shared on Eagle County Paramedic Services’ social media, Zuckerman once wrote, “EMS is a team sport, and I work on an amazing team. Each day brings new challenges and new opportunities to practice field emergency medicine and to make a small difference.” It’s a testament to his character and his unwavering belief in the impact of collective effort in emergency medical services.

In light of the tragic loss of Steve Zuckerman, a dedicated paramedic and search and rescue team member, Eagle County Paramedic Services and the broader community emphasize the importance of safety in the backcountry. To help prevent rescues and similar incidents, here are essential safety tips for outdoor enthusiasts:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare: Before venturing into the backcountry, thoroughly plan your trip. Check the weather forecast, familiarize yourself with the terrain, and ensure you have a clear route mapped out. Inform someone about your plans, including your destination and expected return time.

  2. Carry Essential Gear: Always pack the Ten Essentials for outdoor survival, including navigation tools (map and compass), sun protection, insulation (extra clothing), illumination (headlamp/flashlight), first-aid supplies, fire-starting tools, repair kit and tools, nutrition (extra food), hydration (extra water), and emergency shelter.

  3. Stay Within Your Skill Level: Choose activities and destinations that match your physical condition, experience, and skill level. Pushing beyond your limits can lead to accidents and require emergency rescue services.

  4. Travel with a Companion: Whenever possible, avoid going alone. Having at least one companion can provide mutual support in case of an emergency.

  5. Learn Basic First Aid and Survival Skills: Knowing how to respond to emergencies, including injuries and sudden weather changes, can be lifesaving. Consider taking courses in first aid and wilderness survival.

  6. Respect the Environment: Stick to established trails and campsites to minimize your impact on the environment and reduce the risk of getting lost or encountering dangerous terrain.

  7. Be Prepared for Changes in Weather: Weather in the backcountry can be unpredictable. Dress in layers and carry waterproof gear to adapt to changing conditions.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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