Meet Shane Puyear: A Banker Who Saves Lives

Shane Puyear

Shane Puyear

Early morning meetings can be a real challenge for all of us at times.

A few weeks ago, Shane Puyear, manager of our Dillon bank, wasn’t able to make an early morning meeting.

For many of us, this might happen if we oversleep or simply forget.  For Shane, though, his reason was much more intriguing.

Just after midnight, he was called to search for a lost snowmobiler. You see, Shane is a member of Beaverhead Search and Rescue, which covers Beaverhead County – the largest county in the state, located in southwest Montana – encompassing 5,542 square miles.

To give a bit of perspective, Beaverhead County is 4.5 times larger than the state of Rhode Island, which covers 1,212 square miles.  This county also contains the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest and shares a border with Idaho and Wyoming. This vast area is beautiful, remote and a location that people from other parts of the country dream about visiting.

Growing up in Dillon, Shane was well aware of Beaverhead Search and Rescue. When he was hired to manage our Dillon Bank, he was excited to return home to the part of Montana he loves. Getting involved with Search and Rescue was a natural fit for this outdoorsman. The Beaverhead Search and Rescue group is made up of a variety of volunteers from the area, including two emergency room doctors and another member from Stockman Bank in Dillon, JD Mulkey, Ag Loan Officer.

One of Shane’s most unusual rescues involved a Texas family – ranging in age from an infant to 60 years old – who on a hot summer day, packed up their van and drove north for vacation.

After a very long drive and believing they finally made it to Yellowstone National Park, they set out on a short day hike. Unfortunately, they became disoriented and spent five days in the wilderness with little food or water. Cold, hungry and lost, the group contracted giardia from drinking directly out of the stream and attempted to eat plants and frogs for food.

beaverhead search and rescueFinally, out of desperation, the family decided the father and a son would go out to find help. Soon after leaving, on their hike out, the father fainted on the trail. Panicked and alone, the son continued until he came across people who were able to call for help.

Shane and the Beaverhead Search and Rescue group located the family with the young boy’s direction. The entire family of ten were all in very rough shape, but thankfully still alive.

Another rescue Shane will never forget involved a bow hunter who didn’t return home as planned. His family reported him missing and Search and Rescue took almost ten days to find the man.

Unfortunately, he’d died from a heart attack and his body was hard to find because he was wearing camo. Being prepared in the Montana wilderness is a necessity, and even when someone thinks they’re well prepared, the ending isn’t always a happy one.

There’s no way to predict exactly when the Search and Rescue team may be needed, although Shane tells us that hunting season is often the busiest time.

As a banker and a Search and Rescue member, Shane believes that people need to plan for the unexpected. With banking, people often are caught unprepared. Saving for a rainy day helps prepare for the unexpected.  And, before heading out to enjoy our beautiful state, he suggests wearing protective clothing and packing extra food and water just in case you’re out longer than you planned.

Better safe than sorry.

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