Hidden Talents: Laurel Moulton '01 Comes to the Rescue!

<<< College life is new to first year student Laurel Moulton, but she's an old hand with life-and-death situations.

Laurel Moulton discovered the Seattle area's King County Search and Rescue team at a middle-school career fair when she was just twelve. "They told me you could join when you turned fourteen, so I pretty much counted the days for two years," she recalls. A first-year student from Washington state, Moulton expects to pursue a major related to environmental sciences and conservation.

Moulton's group searches for lost adults and children in urban areas and in forest, water, and mountain locations. They help evacuate injured persons from mountain trails, help police search for evidence at crime sites, work as an advance team for mountain rope rescues, and assist in avalanche situations.

Training for the group is extensive; over the years she attended training weekends frequently, time which also allowed members to bond so they could work effectively as a team in physically and emotionally challenging situations.

"One interesting rescue was on Christmas Day last year," Moulton recalls. "Two inexperienced climbers went up a peak in spite of avalanche warnings and camped out, then triggered an avalanche the next morning. Unfortunately, we found them dead 300 feet from their tent. But we functioned well as a team and were able to get their bodies down." Moulton says the team gets weather reports every half hour and does not put itself in danger to make rescues.

The appeal of search and rescue is that she "really enjoys being with great people, being outside, getting exercise, learning the trails, seeing great views, and helping people in need." For example, she says, "We went to look for a man who'd become intoxicated and disappeared while tubing. He was OK, but while we were still there, a family came to us because their grandfather, who was diabetic, had disappeared while berrypicking on a hot day. It was a close call, but we were able to find and save him. It was a great feeling to help out."

Moulton, who had never been on the East Coast before arriving here several weeks ago, selected Mount Holyoke even though it meant leaving King County Search and Rescue behind for a while. "I wanted something totally different, and everyone I talked to said only good things about the College. I've spent so much time in a male-dominated environment that it was time for a change."