Hiker airlifted from Piestewa Peak after fall

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By Kourtney Seaton, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism | ASU

PHOENIX -- A woman was airlifted off Piestewa Peak after falling on Thursday afternoon, according to the Phoenix Fire Department.

Phoenix Fire received an emergency call around noon from a hiker who was in distress near the top of the mountain.

Phoenix Fire crews made their way up the mountain when they found the young woman had passed out and fallen, hit the back of her head and felt weak, according to officials.

The crews on the mountain determined the safest fastest way to extract her off the mountain was by helicopter, because of her location on the trail, Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Mark Vanacore said.

She was airlifted to safety on the ground using a harness to get her off the trail and into the side of the helicopter.

An ambulance awaited in the parking lot to transport her to a local hospital for further evaluation.

"Based on her injuries and the fact that she was unconscious for a short time, that was the quickest, safest way to get her off the mountain so the crews could render additional medical treatment," Vanacore said.

The heat, whether directly or indirectly, plays a big role in the number of rescues, especially in the Valley, Phoenix Fire Capt. Tom Taylor said. 

"Today's rescue happened to be a fall, she lost her footing, but she was up at a point where it would take hours and hours to get her down if we used a basket. The best and quickest way to get her down was by helicopter."

It took about an hour for crews to safely rescue the injured hiker, Taylor said.

If they used a basket or wheel, the rescue would have taken three to four hours. 

Taylor said the rescue took longer than usual today because the helicopter was involved in another rescue.

Phoenix Fire attended to three calls in the day prior to the Piestewa rescue. 

Officials recommend to always hike with someone, bring plenty of water, and try to do it during the daylight hours. If you are out at dusk, make sure you have a headlamp or flashlight with you.

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