Friday, July 22, 2011

Hiking Related Rescues on the Rise

Lakeside, CA -

Over the last year there has been a steady increase in the number of rescue calls to extricate stranded hikers in the San Diego County area. This number is simply reflective of the increased use of trails throughout the region. Hiking has had a resurgence in popularity, thus many hikers find themselves unable to return to their vehicles due to a variety of reasons.

But really the biggest concern is the timely notification of emergency services when things go wrong. One of the most challenging aspects of rescuing hikers is finding them in the back country.

Lakeside and CalFire personnel train on removing injured hikers.

To better enjoy the network of trails in San Diego County we suggest:
  • Don't hike alone. Many people can become incapacitated, and unable to seek help on their own. Hike with a group, or a friend.
  • Let people know where you are going.  Don't keep your trip a secret. Let family and friends know where your trail head is at, where you are hiking to, and when you are due back.
  • Know your wilderness address. Access to you GPS coordinates can be invaluable to rescue crews. The price has dropped considerably on basic GPS units, but for those of you with smart phone technology, many have navigation apps that will provide you with this information. Consider downloading one before your next hike.
  • Hike with a cell phone. I know, many of our trails are well outside of reliable cell phone coverage. But many are within the coverage area. Even if you are initially out of cell phone range, it's likely to be faster to hike to an area with "bars", as opposed to hiking to the car and driving for help.
  • Water, water, water...! One of the biggest reasons emergency services are called out is for dehydrated hikers that under estimated their water needs. On a normal day a hiker can sweat away a liter of fluid for every two hours of hiking. As the temperature climbs, or the terrain gets rough, those water needs will only go up.
  • Match your hike to your current level of conditioning. Many people underestimate the physical demands of some of the local trails. Take the time to research the local trails and their difficulty level. 
  • Stay put...! Once you have called for help and given a specific location...stay put. Often crews have difficulty when they arrive at a specific location only to find the victim gone.
Hiking is a great recreational sport that should be enjoyed by all. Just go prepared...

Submitted By: Fire Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire District

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