SAFETY

Live Mic: Search and rescue calls shoot up in Utah during pandemic

Oct 28, 2020, 5:52 PM
(Photo: Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue)
(Photo: Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue)

SALT LAKE CITY — What is the ultimate in social distancing? Being alone in the wilderness, of course. But one drawback is that some of those ultimate social-distancers find themselves in need of search and rescue.

Shaun Roundy of the Utah County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue joined the host of KSL Newsradio’s Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry to talk about how COVID-19 has impacted search and rescue efforts as more folks head out into the great outdoors.

Yellowstone National Park recorded a 21% increase in visitors in September, compared to September of 2019. On Memorial Day, Zion National Park was at full capacity by 6:30 a.m., according to Deseret News.

Roundy said that more hikers mean more hikers needing to be located and rescued. He also said more hikers means more hikers with little to no hiking experience.

“We usually get 80 to 100 rescue missions a year [in Utah County],” Roundy said. “We are currently sitting at 115. It is a much heavier load.”

Always be prepared

“Are you finding — needing to go out and find and rescue — individuals who are just unprepared?” Lee asked.

Roundy said in the spring when temperatures were cooler and there was more snow, lack of preparation was evident.

He recalled rescuing a couple who had climbed a peak only to find themselves waist-deep in snow on the other side of the mountain. They were wearing denim.

“Cotton is not the thing to wear. I want to emphasize this with winter coming up, with the cold. If you get wet, cotton will just draw the heat off your body,” said Roundy. “We call it Killer Cloth.

“They [the rescued hikers] just got exhausted. They didn’t have enough food or water. We found them just as it was getting dark. They didn’t have any lights,” Roundy said. “We gave them some calories and some hydration and got them down off the trail just fine. That was typical of what we were seeing, and we’re kinda concerned that that’s what we’ll see again now.”

What does search and rescue involve?

“Are some of these extractions, are they requiring aircraft for the most part? Or, as you have described here, you get folks warm and get some calories in them and are able to accompany back down the trail. What is the nature of the rescue efforts?” Lee asked.

Roundy said some hikers push beyond their boundaries by hiking too far and then realize they don’t have the needed stamina to turn around and hike back to safety.

He added that cellphone technology is a blessing and a curse.

“When you dial 911 on your phone, if it’s GPS-enabled, we know your location,” Roundy said. “That makes it so much easier.”

“On the other hand, it does means people call us when they otherwise would’ve had to get out of trouble themselves,” he said, adding, “If you’re in trouble, don’t hesitate to call. We’re volunteers. We’re free. The only time you get charged is if you go in a medical helicopter.”

Who are the volunteers?

“Talk to me about the type of person who approaches a search-and-rescue team and says, ‘I’d like to help?'” Lee asked.

Roundy said sometimes people who want to join a search-and-rescue team are enthralled by the activities of the job, such as riding motorcycles, but when they learn they won’t get paid, their enthusiasm drops.

Roundy said for people who have an aptitude for the outdoors and have something to contribute, such as medical skills, saving a life or bringing closure to a family when a body is recovered is “really, really rewarding.”

He said that becoming a volunteer requires a large time commitment and “a big money commitment,” if you don’t have the required gear.

“You don’t have to be a great rock climber, although, that’s fantastic,” he said. 

RELATED:  Severe weather created a busy weekend for Grand County Search and Rescue

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

Today’s Top Stories

Safety

The Kaysville Fourth of July Parade is canceled after a medical emergency....
Kira Hoffelmeyer

8-year-old girl in critical condition after getting injured at Kaysville parade

KAYSVILLE, Utah — An 8-year-old has been critically injured during the Kaysville City Fourth of July parade. Kaysville Police say the girl was taken to a hospital for her injuries. This happened at 175 S. Main St in Kaysville. It’s unclear if the child fell off the float and was hit, or if she was […]
1 day ago
Tooele City announced its firework restrictions Sunday evening. Photo Credit: Tooele City's Faceboo...
Devin Oldroyd

Tooele City releases fireworks restrictions map

Tooele City announced its firework restrictions Sunday evening.
2 days ago
Map of Layton City firework restrictions...
Waverly Golden

Layton City is under extreme firework restrictions

A Facebook post by Layton City said a firework ban is in place east of Highway 89 and hazard zones. Citations will be issued for violations.
3 days ago
Photo of Riverton Police, the ones who sent out the amber alert, vehicle...
Mark Jones

8-year-old boy struck by car in Riverton, suffers head injury

Riverton police an 8-year-old boy suffered a head injury Friday night after a collision with a vehicle. The boy was transported to Primary Children's Hospital.
4 days ago
Utah deadliest days UHP investigates double fatal accident....
Mark Jones

One person dead in three-vehicle crash in southern Utah

The Utah Highway Patrol reports that one person died Friday following a three-vehicle crash in southern Utah. One other person was transported to the hospital with injuries.
4 days ago
Herbert Cox statement Reyes election lawsuit...
Mark Jones

State of Utah files lawsuit against pharmaceutical retailers

Three pharmaceutical retailers are facing a lawsuit from the State of Utah. The lawsuit was filed the week of July 1.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Live Mic: Search and rescue calls shoot up in Utah during pandemic