WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue is urging caution to those out recreating. As the St. George area faces yet another heat wave, first responders may be faced with some of their most critical calls for help.
In triple-digit heat, rescuers say time is of the essence when someone gets injured or stranded in the backcountry. Sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell Cashin, liaison of the rescue team for nearly nine years, says heat exhaustion and heat stroke can quickly complicate a rescue on top of injuries the victims may already face.
Dispatch received a call at 9 a.m. Tuesday that an elderly man had crashed on a mountain bike at the Bearclaw Poppy Trail in St. George. Cashin said he likely suffered a concussion and went unconscious before waking up and riding in circles along the trail for about an hour.
“He was still not completely cognizant of what was going on,” Cashin said. “He didn’t know how he wrecked, how long he was unconscious, or where he was at.”
Rescuers are urging hikers and bikers to bring plenty of water and let their loved ones know exactly where they plan to go.
Typically, calls for rescues in Washington County tend to decrease when temperatures become unbearable, Cashin said, and the calls that do come tend to be the more critical; but, so far this summer, rescues have remained steady, especially calls of mountain bike crashes and UTV and ATV accidents on the sand dunes at Sand Hollow State Park.
“We have been bracing ourselves for a lot of calls on the holiday weekends, but that hasn’t been happening, but we are getting far more rescues than we normally would during the week,” Cashin said. “We respond to 3 to 4 rescues each week during the work days and then however many we pick up on the weekends.”
By July 1st, Cashin said his teams reached 90 calls for rescues, which have now increased to 91. He anticipates at least 150 rescues by the end of the year, which would shatter 2018’s record of 132 calls.