On the trail: Utah rescue calls increasing
August 13, 2006
PROVO, Utah – Search and rescue calls to the Utah County sheriff’s office have more than doubled this summer, department Sgt. Tom Hodgson said.The department had 23 calls in June and 28 calls in July. In June 2005, there were 11 calls, and in the following month there were 12.”We see a lot more people becoming interested in outdoor activities,” Hodgson said. “More than double is a lot – you hope it’s an anomaly.”In a 60-day period that began in June, the county’s mostly volunteer rescue team has been on 51 rescues. The majority of calls are to retrieve boys and men between the ages of 12 and 30, said Chris Reed, a veteran with more than 26 years on the team and more than 2,500 rescues under his belt.”I’m not going to say that they’re pushing the macho thing,” Hodgson said. “But they are willing to push beyond their ability and take chances.”In addition to the jump in rescue calls, more of those rescued this year have been critically injured or killed during their outdoor expeditions, Hodgson added.If people are going to make an investment in the outdoors, they need to make an investment in their safety as well,” he said.That means assessing recreation plans, including terrain and weather patterns, as well as wearing the right clothing and footwear, and taking the proper equipment, including hand-held global positioning devices, flashlights, food and water. Rescue experts also recommend not going into the wilderness alone.If the unexpected happens, leaving someone stranded on a lake or in the mountains, Hodgson said people need to understand that a rescue is a methodical operation that takes time.”We try to formulate a plan to keep everyone safe and let us use the environment to the advantage,” Hodgson said.