Need for hiker rescues continues despite extreme heat, humidity

As we continue to see extreme heat and humidity, the need for hiker rescues continues.
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 1:53 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 11, 2022 at 2:07 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As we continue to see extreme heat and humidity, the need for hiker rescues continues.

A couple of hikers were rescued earlier this week at Catalina State Park and another was rescued Sunday at the Finger Rock trailhead.

The hiker was rescued from that area after experiencing heat exhaustion and was transported to the hospital. The Southern Arizona Rescue Association, Rural Metro Fire and Pima County Sheriff’s Department all responded and a helicopter was even brought in to get the hiker out safely.

The extreme heat in Arizona can be dangerous and even deadly. Despite warnings from officials, many were out hiking over the weekend and some even had to be rescued.

Some of the hikers are local and they feel they are acclimated and resilient enough to face the heat.

“We bring water. I have a water purifier if we want to get water down there too,” one hiker said.

“Explore, see this waterfall. Hopefully, make it. It’s hot, very hot. We did Chiva Falls last weekend so we wanted to try this one,” another pair of hikers explained as they made their way to Seven Falls in temperatures over 100 degrees.

But even the most prepared hiker can get heat exhaustion. Southern Arizona Rescue Association volunteer Amy McPherson said it doesn’t matter how hydrated you are, you can still be at risk in the heat.

Summer is a busy time for hiker rescues.

Despite the extreme heat, SARA receives two hiker rescue calls on average each week. They said it’s very dangerous for hikers and rescuers to go out in these temperatures.

“We do try to train ourselves and acclimate to the heat early on in the season, but anyone can be susceptible to heat exhaustion. No one’s immune from it. We carry 20-50 pounds of gear on our back when we go to rescue somebody so it is very dangerous for us to go out,” McPherson said.

When making a rescue, rescuers also carry items specifically for the summer, like sun umbrellas, anything to get hikers shaded, and plenty of water and electrolytes. And they go out in teams.

“We are surrounded by a whole team of people,” McPhersaon said. “So we have a team whose sole responsibility is to carry extra water for us. So that’s what makes us a little bit safer.”

McPherson said if you must go hiking, you need to go early and come back early. Be sure to bring plenty of water and watch for signs of heat exhaustion like headaches, dizziness and cramps.

Southern Arizona Rescue Association is a free service. They say, if you’re in trouble out on a hike, call 911 early.

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