Rescuers prepare for what could be a busy Memorial Day weekend

May 24, 2024, 10:21 PM

PLEASANT GROVE — Search and rescue crews braced Friday for a potentially busy Memorial Day weekend as they urged people to prepare for the elements.

According to Steve Gorrell, incident commander with Utah County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue, crews have already seen a surge in call-outs in recent weeks, including earlier this week at Battle Creek Trail.

“It got dark and they didn’t have much light and had lost, kind of, their group,” Gorrell said. “Their group found them, and we helped find the rest of the group and brought them down with lights and everything.”

Gorrell also noted other recent responses, including those at Sundance, Mount Timpanogos, and Utah Lake.

“Everything is green this time of year, and so it’s a great time to be out and these trailheads along the Wasatch Front here are very popular right now,” he said.

Gorrell urged people to be safe and prepared by familiarizing themselves with the trails they take, using charged phones and charging devices, and taking extra water and layers to stay hydrated and warm.

Gorrell listing tips about keeping safe outdoors while hiking and enjoying the wilderness.

Gorrell listing tips about keeping safe outdoors while hiking and enjoying the wilderness. (KSL TV)

He said there was still a lot of snow above 10,000 feet, and temperatures are colder at higher elevations than people might expect.

The snow itself could be deceiving, he said.

“Now you’ve got some creeks that are running underneath the snow and people can fall through the snow to where the creek’s washed away,” Gorrell said.

Gorrell underscored that it was important for people not to panic when they find themselves in tough spots.

“When you panic, you make poor decisions,” Gorrell said. “Don’t panic. Kind of just sit still for a while. Try to get a cell phone signal and call 911, and we can come help them really quickly, but panic is something we want to help avoid.”

Gorrell said the water was likely to be cold at Utah Lake, and he encouraged people to either wear life vests or keep them on their boats if they head in that direction.

“We know Utah Lake can get popular and so we’re prepared,” he said. “We have a boat we’re actually going to keep out there this weekend so that we can respond quickly and help people who are in need.”

Ultimately, though, Gorrell hoped people would be able to get themselves home safely, even if there were highly-trained crews on standby to step in and save someone.

“We’re just volunteers, and we love being outdoors,” Gorrell said. “We want people to know that they can call us and that we’re happy to come to help them in any way that we can.”

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Rescuers prepare for what could be a busy Memorial Day weekend