Retirement is supposed to be a time to step back and enjoy every moment of your life as the master of your own day. With no one around to tell you what to do, you are your own boss. One Colorado retiree decided that he would not spend his days playing bridge or sitting by a pool. He elected to volunteer as a search and rescue worker.
Charles Pitman simply cannot let his active days slip away. As a search and rescue volunteer in Summit County, Colorado, he sleeps next to an emergency radio, ready to heed the call at a moment’s notice.
The dispatcher could come hollering at any point, and Pitman is ready to come to the rescue. Pitman has spent plenty of nights helping lost or injured hikers and skier, as well as those trapped by avalanches.
He said, “It’s something I always wanted to do. I thought it’d be an interesting, exciting way to give back to the community and help people in distress.”
Before embarking on his second act as a backcountry hero, Pitman worked as a civilian engineer for the Navy testing defense systems for destroyers and aircraft carriers. At age 55, Pitman decided he had had enough and was ready for retirement.
“I turned 55 on a Tuesday, retired on a Friday, drove out to Colorado the following Monday and never looked back,” Pitman said. Summit County was the perfect place for him and his wife Debbie as they already owned a condo in the area as a vacation home.
Pitman takes his volunteer job very seriously. Every nine weeks, he works as a mission coordinator and is on call 24/7. To prepare for the day, he does not drink for a week so his mind can be sharp. He works throughout the Colorado backcountry near Breckenridge, covering the area not watched over by ski patrol.