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Rescuers remind hikers to be heat-wise during summer months

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 7:33 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -After several recent fatalities on Arizona trails, rescue volunteers are asking people to be safe and heat-wise while outdoors this summer. When people aren’t, it puts the rescuers at risk too.

The heat, especially the extreme temperatures seen mid-June, can take even the most prepared outdoorsman. Two hikers died in the Grand Canyon days ago, and 71 year-old Jack Menard, died hiking the Arizona trail in the Catalinas. Rescuers found his body Tuesday.

“He was very well prepared, and he was very well conditioned. He was an ultra-marathon runner,” said Joe Barr, a Southern Arizona Rescue Association (SARA) volunteer.

Despite expert preparations, something happened. Barr said Menard was likely dehydrated in the extreme heat.

“Just like the cold, you get to a point where your mental abilities are being affected, and you’re no longer able to help yourself,” said Barr.

Volunteers at SARA, like Barr, are always ready to help someone in need on the trails at a moment’s notice. Barr has dedicated more than four decades of his life to volunteering for it, but every call does bring him away from home, and away from his wife, Cami Barr.

“It is a risk, what we do,” said Barr.

“He has a condition, and I was worried about him hiking all day. So, our son called him and talked to him the whole way home,” said Cami.

To make sure the public and volunteers are safe and can always make it back to their loved ones on the trail, SARA is reminding people to start early on their hike, and drink at least a half-liter of water an hour, preferably more.

“We want you to take lots of water, lots of fluids,” said Barr.

They also said to take a buddy, have a plan, and if you get lost, hunker down and stay where you are. It’s the best chance for everyone to get home safely.

SARA has done 37 search and rescue missions so far this year. In all of 2020, they did just more than 80—which was down from 2019, when they performed 108 search and rescue missions.

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