Phoenix firefighters sent home after hot rescues have asked hikers to think twice before setting out on trails

PHOENIX – After a week of mountain rescue, during which almost a dozen firefighters were sent home for health reasons, the Phoenix fire department is handing over responsibility to the very people they are rescuing.

On Monday, the Phoenix Fire Department rescued six hikers from the Camelback and Piestewa Peak mountains. Two days later, on Wednesday, three rescue calls were answered in extreme heat, which resulted in the fire brigade sending nine firefighters home for health reasons. Two of them ended up in the hospital but have since been released.

“You weren’t even halfway through your shift,” said Todd Keller, public information officer for the Phoenix Fire Department. “You put yourself in danger and you also endanger the technical rescue teams.”

Technical rescue teams carry more than 25 pounds of equipment up a mountain to the hiker for each rescue.

“My job is to carry medical equipment, that’s another 25 pounds and a backpack to carry,” said firefighter Adam Skiver. “In addition to mountain hiking and mountain rescue, we have to walk in car accidents and house fires.”

In a speech on social media on Thursday, the Phoenix Fire Department urged hikers to take responsibility and avoid hiking in extreme heat.

“We encourage you to enjoy all of the hiking the city of Phoenix has to offer, but we also encourage you to think twice before hiking in triple-digit heat,” said Phoenix Fire Captain Kenny Overton. “We always think of your safety and hope that you also think of ours.”

Still, with trail temperatures at Piestewa Peak exceeding 140 degrees, hikers still showed up to scale the summit and even run.

“I choose the hottest hours on purpose. This is my thing,” said Lee Thomason.

“[I] just like being outside no matter what time of year, “said Scott Baarson.” They are trained to do it, too. People are just as likely to get injured when the weather is nice as when it is not. “

“Climbing the mountain several times a day challenges the human body, it doesn’t matter who you are,” said Skiver.

The Phoenix Fire hopes that a person’s need to hike in dangerous heat does not cause any of their own to be seriously injured or worse.

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