Firefighters Rescue Three Separate Hikers on Arizona Trails

by TK Sanders
(Photo by DEA / L. ROMANO/De Agostini via Getty Images)

Phoenix firefighters and first responders conducted three separate hiker rescue missions nearly simultaneously on Sunday around different parks throughout the city.

Fire crews visited South Mountain, Dreamy Draw Trail, and Piestewa Peak yesterday to help three distressed hikers. All of the hikers were young people, between the ages of 20 to 24, officials said.

The rescues come on the heels of Phoenix’s first 90-degree weekend of the year. Though none of the incidents were a direct result of dehydration, two of the hikers requiring assistance required fluids. Phoenix also just broke a heat record set in 1988 after reaching 94 degrees last Friday.

On the Dreamy Draw trail, firefighters had to rescue a 23-year-old hiker who fell from his bike two miles from the trailhead. According to fire officials, the man sustained a shoulder injury during the fall. Rescuers also treated the man for dehydration with an IV.

“[The man] was then assisted down the trail to an awaiting ambulance where he was transported to a local hospital for further treatment and evaluation,” officials wrote in a statement.

At Piestewa Peak, rescuers loaded a 20-year-old woman onto a big wheel; and then lowered her down the mountain after she injured her ankle on the hike. Fire crews said the woman was also suffering from dehydration. Hospital officials said the woman is in stable but weak condition.

Firefighters perform more hiker rescues during hot summer months than the rest of the year

On the South Mountain trail, fire crews helped a 24-year-old man down the mountain after he rolled his ankle while running alone.

“Firefighters arrived on the scene and hiked in approximately 1 mile to find the patient in stable condition. [He was] needing assistance to walk down the remainder of the trail,” officials said. The man then refused to go to the hospital.

Capt. Todd Keller with the Phoenix Fire Department issued some guidance for upcoming high heat as we move into summertime across the country. Firefighters started the “Take a Hike, Do It Right” campaign last year. The campaign stresses safety in high heat when mountain rescues spike.

“It’s real imperative that you hydrate before, during, and after your hike and pick that cooler part of the day,” said Keller. “Maybe early in the morning and maybe later at night.”

Firefighters say the biggest items to prepare for are heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Dogs also need an adequate water supply during extremely hot days. A dog’s coat can get up to 30 degrees warmer while hiking in hot temperatures; and the rocks beneath their paws can become nearly unbearable for them. A good rule of thumb: if the surface is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paw.

Some other tips for hikers to avoid needing rescue from firefighters include dressing appropriately (sunglasses, hats, etc.), having a fully-charged cell phone, hiking with friends not alone, packing plenty of water, and staying on the trail.