ST. GEORGE — 2017 is on track to be one of the busier years for the dedicated volunteers from Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue with 100 calls for help logged since the beginning of the year.
That’s 15 more than the 85 search and rescue calls crews responded to in 2016 and slightly under the 111 received in 2015. But the year isn’t over yet, and emergency personnel typically see more calls than usual the week of Christmas.
Sheriff Cory Pulsipher announced the preliminary numbers Tuesday in an emergency services report to the Washington County Commission.
Eight calls received in the one-month period from Nov. 20-Dec. 19 resulted in over 213 man hours of voluntary service from crews responding to falls, lost and injured hikers and off-road vehicle accidents.
“There are a couple of these calls that really end up being life-saving types of situations,” Pulsipher said.
In one of the eight incidents, a woman lost control of her car outside of Veyo Nov. 20, launching the vehicle off the road and careening into a tree.
The woman was seriously injured and had to be flown to the hospital by medical helicopter after medical and rescue crews performed the delicate task of stabilizing the car and then hauling the patient to the helicopter.
“It was a coordinated effort with medical personnel and our search and rescue and high angle team,” Pulsipher said.
That same day, a 63-year-old woman was critically injured after falling approximately 30 feet while climbing in Snow Canyon State Park, requiring crews to lower the patient about 200 feet from a cliff face.
With so many outdoor recreation destinations, Washington County is regularly among the top counties in the state for most calls for help received.
“Without those volunteers that are continually always there for us, I don’t know how we’d do it,” Pulsipher said.
Pulsipher said he’s hoping his crews can stay home for the holidays and cautioned the public to be safe when they go out to test their new outdoor gear.
“People get a lot of new stuff for Christmas, and it seems like that Christmas holiday they want to try it,” he said. “Remember the safety portion of it.”
The sheriff offered some safety tips for people who may wish to hit the trails to try new all-terrain vehicles, bicycles or other outdoor-oriented gifts. His safety tips are as follows:
- Be prepared for winter weather in the mountains.
- Bring proper equipment.
- Don’t go out alone.
- Let someone know where you’re going.
“I’m sure my search and rescue guys would just as soon stay at home during the holiday season,” Pulsipher said, “but they are there in case things do go bad.”
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