Phoenix Fire seeing more mountain rescue calls

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by Amanda Goodman

azfamily.com

Posted on July 8, 2014 at 7:44 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 10 at 9:48 AM

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Fire Department has seen a significant increase in mountain rescue calls this year.

"Phoenix alone worked 153 incidents last year and we have 124 already this year," said Phoenix Fire Captain Benjamin Santillan.

The numbers are up Valley-wide as well. Captain Santillan said there were 235 total calls for mountain rescues in the Valley in 2013.

In the first six months of 2014 there have been a total of 179.

"Our TRT, or technical rescue teams, have been exceptionally busy this season," Santillan said.

It's a similar story in Scottsdale. According to Scottsdale Fire, they've had 50 mountain rescue calls since January, and that's nearly double the amount they had during the same time period last year.

Some of the hikers 3TV talked to at Echo Canyon on Tuesday were surprised by the increase.

"That's unbelievable! I've only seen one rescue from my 10 years of hiking this, so that is very surprising," said Colton Anderson.

"That's a lot of people needing to be rescued," said Marcus Robinson.

Others, though, said the amount of calls makes sense.

"It seems like a lot, but I'm not surprised. It's really hot and if you don't have enough water, or the right shoes, anything can make you have any kind of mishap where you might need to be rescued," Nichole Thornton said.

Phoenix & Scottsdale Fire have some theories as to why calls are up, from people being caught off guard due to erratic behavior to more people hitting the trails and more trails to be hiked.

"Camelback was closed for a large portion of last year due to trail reconstruction," Captain Rayne Gray said.

As for the types of rescues they are being called out to, Phoenix Fire says it varies.

"You get some dehydrated individuals. Some people feel their heart pounding; they'll have chest pain. Others will fall and break an ankle," said Capt. Santillan.

There are other times when people don't necessarily need to be rescued, but rather helped down off the mountain.

In a lot of cases though, Captain Santillan says these rescues could have been prevented had people been more prepared.

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