Phoenix mountain rescues decrease during pilot program to close trails in extreme heat
PHOENIX – A city of Phoenix pilot program to close popular hiking trails during some of the hottest summer days has resulted in fewer mountain rescues for first responders, according to new data.
Since the pilot program took effect July 16 to close trails on days where an excessive heat warning is issued, rescues on Camelback Mountain decreased to four in August after 11 were recorded in July.
Rescues at Piestewa Peak and South Mountain also decreased from July to August.
CLOSING TRAILS WORKS: New data from @PHXFire shows the @PhoenixParks pilot program that closes popular hiking trails in extreme heat is decreasing the amount of mountain rescues performed. @KTAR923 pic.twitter.com/f841Jyxwl6
— Ali Vetnar (@Ali_Vetnar) September 21, 2021
“When we crunch the numbers, we’re very happy with what we’re seeing,” Phoenix Fire Capt. Rob McDade told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.
The program took effect mid-July after nearly a dozen firefighters were sent home from duty after suffering heat exhaustion after performing multiple heat rescues in one day.
“Not only are we keeping the public safe, but we’re keeping firefighters safe,” McDade said. “We have not had any firefighters transported [to the hospital] or needed treatment from extreme heat rescues.”
The pilot program runs through September 30th.
Once the excessive heat watch trail closure pilot program concludes, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board will have an opportunity to review rescue data and hear from stakeholders.
It’s unclear if the pilot program will continue. The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department says further recommendations will be provided after the review process has been completed.