Search and rescue teams gear up for warmer temperatures, busier weeks ahead
Jul 5, 2023, 10:27 PM
UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Search and rescue crews say the rate of rescues has started to rise amid proper summer temperatures across Utah.
Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dallin Turner said it had been a slower-than-expected spring and summer until recently.
“Just this Monday was one of our busiest days we’ve had this year,” Turner told KSL TV.
He said on Monday, there was a trio of calls on Utah Lake, all at roughly the same time following a powerful thunderstorm.
“We actually had a boat that capsized with quite a few people on it,” Turner said. “Then we had reports of some kayakers that people saw, then they couldn’t see them due to the winds and stuff, so they were concerned for them.”
In addition, Turner said crews received calls that day about a couple of stuck hikers.
Other departments across the state also reported relatively average starts to the year in terms of rescues.
Salt Lake County search-and-rescue teams said the year had also been relatively average for them so far, with 23 call-outs from January to June, according to Unified police Sgt. Melody Cutler.
In Kane County in southern Utah, Lt. Alan Alldredge said rescuers had also seen a relatively average year so far in terms of rescue operations, with roughly 1 to 2 calls per week.
However, a few departments said they’d seen a brisk pace of rescues.
As of Wednesday, according to Utah Highway Patrol Sgt Cameron Roden, the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau had already been involved in 428 missions year-to-date compared to 530 missions in all of 2022.
Roden attributed some of the increase in missions to greater available resources to meet demand statewide, including a St. George base that opened in August last year, as well as a third helicopter that the bureau currently maintains.
In Washington County, Sgt. Darrell Cashin said search-and-rescue teams had already recorded 88 rescue responses in 2023 after only seeing 119 for the entire year in 2022.
He said 2020 set a record for the county with 174 rescues, and he believed crews were likely on pace this year for more than 150 rescue responses by year’s end, noting that summer months tend to be a little slower when temperatures creep above 105.
Cutler urged people to remain hydrated in summer temperatures and to keep their pets hydrated as well, saying Salt Lake County recently had a rescue involving a dog that died from dehydration.
Turner cautioned people heading out to Utah Lake to know the forecast and prepare with life jackets on boats. He had other advice for those heading to the mountains, including areas of American Fork Canyon.
“Have someone else that’s staying down in the valley know what your plan is, where you’re headed,” Turner said. “If you’re going for a hike, always take more water and food than you think you might need.”
Logan Day was in the area of the Timpooneke Trail Wednesday evening, headed for an overnight campout, and said he always comes prepared.
“We’ve got food, water, we’ve got our shelters,” Day said. “Plus, I’ve let others know where we’re going to be, so if we don’t get back in time, they know where to start.”