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Sheriff's Department sees increase in calls to help distressed hikers around Tucson
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Sheriff's Department sees increase in calls to help distressed hikers around Tucson

Search and Rescue deputies have answered 17 distress calls from hikers in the last two weeks, a time frame in which they’d normally see half a dozen or so cases, said Deputy James Allerton of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

Pima County has seen a huge spike in distress calls from hikers hitting the trails without taking basic safety measures.

Search and Rescue deputies have answered 17 such calls in the last two weeks, a time frame in which they’d normally see half a dozen or so cases, said Deputy James Allerton of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

That’s roughly a 100% increase in call volume, a strain on emergency responders.

Allerton suspects the increase may be due to more novice hikers venturing out at a time many are off work with limited recreation options” during the COVID 19 pandemic. “Plus, its been very nice out,” he added.

“It’s only the beginning,” he said of the season, so the department, in a bid to stem the tide, has issued a public plea for newbies to familiarize themselves with safety measures such as:

  • Carry enough water, about one liter for each hour of hiking.
  • Bring along a fully charged cell phone.
  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Check the weather forecast to avoid the hottest times of day.
  • Bring a first-aid kit with bandages, EpiPens and other necessities.
  • Hike with a friend who knows the area.
  • Keep a safe distance from wildlife.
  • Know your limits.

“We are encouraging people to put some thought into this instead of just driving somewhere and heading into the wild,” Allerton said.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or calaimo@tucson.com. On Twitter: @StarHigherEd

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