Search and rescue crews in Washington County see another uptick in calls for help

Southern Utah

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) — Search and rescue crews in Washington County are experiencing yet another uptick in calls for help, responding to seven calls in a span of six days.

First responders say they’re hoping an increase in temperatures will eventually keep their volume of calls at bay, adding that the sustained high volume of rescues has burdened their 70 volunteers, who are continuing to regularly come out in a show of support for their communities.

“It’s more the pace of the calls, how fast they’re coming and how in depth they become,” Sgt. Darrell Cashin, liaison of the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, tells ABC4 News.

From missing person’s reports to heat exhaustion, crews said there are a myriad of reasons they come out to assist, but add that one situation in particular is repeating itself: UTV and ATV accidents on the sand dunes at Sand Hollow State Park.

“I’m hoping that people will realize that just because you’re given a machine that you can rent that can do certain things, there are some things you still cannot do,” Cashin said. “Jumping the dunes at 50 miles per hour is one of them.”

Emergency teams say many of the recent rescues in Washington County are preventable if the those out recreating can pay a bit closer attention by staying within their physical capabilities, preparing in the event of an emergency, and keeping in mind the drastic changes in temperatures at night around this time of the year.

Cashin said the county is on track to reach 150 to 160 rescues by the end of the year, which would break the annual record.

“If we were up in the range of 200 rescues a year, definitely we would have to have some paid staff to help with that,” Cashin said.

A hybrid search and rescue team with a few paid staff to assist is likely on the horizon, according to Cashin, who anticipates calls continuing to increase year after year as Southern Utah continues to grow.

Katie Karalis
Katie worked as a multimedia journalist in Reno, Nevada for KRNV News 4 and in Quincy, Illinois for WGEM-TV before making the move to Utah. Katie graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she anchored and reported for the Emmy-award-winning Northwestern News Network.

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