Volunteers train for mountain rescue operations

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- When a trail hike goes bad, the highly trained mountain rescue posse volunteers and the Maricopa County Sheriff's helicopter crew step in.

"We rappel down from the helicopter, the ones we lower down with the ropes to rescue the people," said Maricopa County Sheriff's Office chief pilot Deputy Kevin Kraayenbrink.

Because the terrain is typically rocky, the mountain rescue volunteers drop in and work on both the patient and the surrounding area by clearing a safe patch for the chopper to land.

Saturday was training day near the Loop 101 and Cave Creek Road in Phoenix.

"We train at an extremely high level so that we ensure that our training operations are more challenging than any rescue that we'll ever do," said volunteer David Bremson. 

According to MCSO, they get many calls for rescues. On average, they get called out about a hundred times a year.

Deputy Kraayenbrink recommends always taking water, possibly some food and definitely staying on the path.

"You stay on the trail and we're going to find you and we fly with night vision goggles and a FLIR, so if you take a flashlight with you you're bound to get rescued in minutes rather than hours."