Fire department warns hikers of excessive heat risks

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by Jayson Chesler

Video report by Jill Galus

Posted on July 23, 2014 at 10:05 AM

PHOENIX -- Firefighters at Camelback Mountain are warning hikers about the dangers they face due to the summer weather. Excessive Heat Notices have been posted at a number of trailheads.

Darrell Wiseman of the Phoenix Fire Department was stationed at Camelback Mountain to communicate with hikers. Wiseman said that fire departments understand and approve of people's desires to hike, but hope that everyone is responsible about their excursions.

"We look at these mountains and they're beautiful," Wiseman said. "We invite people to come out here but, at the same time, this is the summer and it is excessive."

Wiseman said anyone hiking during the summer months needs to be prepared for the challenges of their hike in addition to the challenges the heat brings. Proper footwear and a charged phone are important tools to bring, but Wiseman said the number one resource is still water.

"Have enough water," Wiseman said. "If you think you're drinking enough: double it."

If someone is not prepared and a rescue is needed, Wiseman said that every rescue takes a number of people. Firefighters are trained to handle rescue situations, but the resources spent doing a rescue are still costly.

"It takes a lot of personnel to actually extract somebody," Wiseman said. "First off, they have to get the equipment on top of the mountain or where the location is and then we have to bring them down the mountain."

The equipment Wiseman spoke of is typically "the big wheel," essentially a stokes basket stretcher with a single large wheel attached to it. Typically, four to six firefighters are required to bring someone down challenging mountain terrain safely.

This year, the Phoenix Fire Department is already close to reaching the number of mountain rescues performed all of last year. Last year, firefighters performed 154 rescues. This year, the number has already reached 133.

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