Phoenix mountain rescues increase

It’s a sound Camelback Mountain regulars have come to expect. Amid the Spotify, busy chatter of teenagers and welcome breezes, the chop of rescue helicopters cuts through the air, its occupants combing the terrain for the latest broken ankle or victim of Valley heat.

Phoenix, Arizona mountain rescues spiked by more than 30 percent in 2014 over the previous year, and 2015 so far is keeping up the pace, according to records maintained by the Phoenix Fire Department.

By the end of June 2014, Phoenix fire crews had been called out on 120 rescues from the city’s famous mountain hiking trails, an increase from 80 during the same time frame in 2013. Now, not halfway through June 2015, Phoenix fire has been called out on 116 mountain rescues.

“Call volumes are going up, no doubt about it,” said Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Aaron Ernsberger. “Our population goes up, and people, they are more health-conscious. (But) they don’t understand that these mountains out here are pretty serious.”

Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Mike Billingsley said many of the hikers are also from out of town and unfamiliar with the concept of dry heat.

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