BES History

BES has been successfully serving Boulder County in a search and rescue capacity for more than five decades. The many officials and agencies served by BES during the past 59 years say that BES has a proven track record and is a first-rate, highly qualified search and rescue team that continually strives for excellence.

BES was founded in 1963 as the 11-Meter Club by amateur radio operator Bill Hughes after watching two tow trucks pull apart two cars to ‘extricate’ the victims. The 11-Meter Club was later renamed the 11-Meter Squad, and then first incorporated as Boulder Emergency Squad in 1966.

10 early members of the 11-Meter Club

BES founder Bill Hughes and the first BES members pose with the local police sergeant circa 1963.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, members were deputized and performed extrication across Boulder County.

The 1980’s brought a new focus on rebuilding rescue quality and training a dive team. New swift water rescue techniques were developed for the unique rescue challenges of Boulder Creek.

For over 32 years, BES headquarters was located at 5048 East Pearl St., in Boulder, Colorado and was leased from the City of Boulder. This building was a 2-story all steel structure with a 3-bay vehicle garage. The building was originally owned solely by the membership of BES, but became the property of Boulder County after the initial lease expired.

In 2003, BES moved into the building at 49th and the Diagonal highway (3532 Diagonal Hwy). The new building has a footprint approximately twice the size of the old building, with 6 bays, office space, meeting rooms and living quarters. This building was custom remodeled from a machine shop owned by Wellborn (an early member of the Squad) into a state of the art rescue facility.

BES has owned a number of different types of apparatus to deliver rescue services, ranging from quick response vehicles, rescue utility trucks, dive trailers, and water rescue craft, to off-road fire suppression and transport vehicles, water rescue vans and modern heavy rescue trucks.

For more information, download Boulder Emergency Squad – An Historical Perspective compiled by Chief Andy Amalfitano.