Help! Phoenix mountain rescues on pace to set record in 2017

Mar 28, 2017, 2:14 PM | Updated: Mar 29, 2017, 11:10 am

(Twitter Photo/@PHXFire)...

(Twitter Photo/@PHXFire)

(Twitter Photo/@PHXFire)

PHOENIX — A pilot said Tuesday city of Phoenix rescue crews are currently on pace to set a record for mountain rescues in a single year.

“We train so much and it happens so frequently that it’s almost routine now,” Phoenix Police rescue pilot Paul Apolinar said.

In 2016, a record 279 people had to be pulled off a mountain. As of Tuesday, the department — along with the help of Phoenix Fire — had rescued 77 people from the Valley’s mountains.

Phoenix Fire Capt. Jay Van Hook said his department is concerned that number could balloon this weekend, as thousands of people pour into the Valley for the NCAA Final Four tournament.

Van Hook said the biggest cause of mountain rescues is a lack of water, followed quickly by people failing to recognize how strenuous a hike can be.

“When people go hiking, don’t go any further after your water supply hits the halfway mark,” he said. “At that point, it’s time to turn around and come back.”

Apolinar said hikers who get stuck could see his face when they’re pulled into the helicopter because it’s less risky than sending a team up the mountain.

“It’s lower risk for us to be overhead in the helicopter, lower a rescuer and extract the patient off of the mountain versus sending 10-15 firemen up the hill with a big wheel to walk them down which can take two or three hours,” he said.

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Help! Phoenix mountain rescues on pace to set record in 2017