What is Preventative Search and Rescue?

You’ve probably heard of Search and Rescue before, but some national park rangers are involved with Preventive Search and Rescue. Basically their job is to help visitors avoid needing to be rescued by providing education about the hazards of hiking in the parks, and the time and equipment necessary to complete a planned hike.

The PSAR program was started in 1997 at Grand Canyon National Park as an effort to reduce the hundreds of heat-related illnesses park visitors were experiencing every summer. It has since been adapted at other parks as well. Some of those illnesses resulted in deaths that could have been avoided with better preparation and planning. PSAR Rangers patrol the upper portions of the main corridor trails, such as the Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trails, and ask hikers questions about their hiking plans.

* Where are you hiking today?

* Do you know how far that is and how long it will take you to complete the hike?

* Do you have enough water and food with you?

* Are you drinking your water?

* Do you have a flashlight and a jacket?

* Do you know what temperatures to expect?

Although information about the trails is available at the Visitor Center and on signs posted at the trailheads, many hikers are still surprised when a PSAR Ranger talks to them about their planned hike. If you meet a PSAR Ranger on your hike remember the goal is not to discourage you but to help you have a safe and positive experience.

PSAR Rangers are also EMT’s and are often the first park personnel on scene with an ill or injured hiker. PSAR Rangers carry basic medical gear and can call for additional personnel if advanced medical or technical rescue skills are required.


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