Nearly 80 hikers rescued from Phoenix trails so far in 2017

Phoenix, AZ police, fire and parks officials met at Piestewa Peak this week to promote hiker safety. Seventy-seven hikers have been rescued from Phoenix trails this year through March 20. Last year, there were 279 rescues within Phoenix.

Fire Capt. Jake Van Hook said calls for rescue have steadily increased over the past five years.

“We train together, we work together, to be able to do these rescues the way that they have to be done frequently,” Van Hook said. “With the temperatures warming up, and people (here) for spring break and of course for the Final Four, we have lots of visitors … lots of people visiting our parks.”

Reasons for rescues include not planning ahead, failure to use available weather apps, not wearing proper footwear, not preparing for the heat, or hiking alone. He added that children who are too young to be hiking difficult trails is also an issue.

In an effort to reduce the number of mountain rescues, the Arizona Office of Tourism, the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association and the City of Phoenix Parks & Recreation Department launched the “Take a Hike, Do It Right” campaign last year to educate visitors about hiking safety.

Mark Sirota, a park ranger with the city of Phoenix also talked about the danger of bees while hiking, mentioning that a climber on Camelback Mountain died a couple years ago after coming across a swarm of bees, getting stung and then falling.

“We’re working on multiple programs to bring the message to the public so they can have a safe and enjoyable hike,” Sirota said. “And we do that because we truly care. Nobody should be dying over a hike. We want people to take a hike and do it right.”

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