New data shows closing popular hiking trails in extreme heat is working | Arizona News

PHOENIX (3TV / CBS 5) – It’s been two months since the City of Phoenix began closing its most popular hiking trails at Camelback and Piestewa Peak whenever there is excessive heat watch.

The goal was to protect hikers and firefighters.

The pilot program was put in place after firefighters were sent to hospital for heat exhaustion while performing mountain rescues of people suffering from the same.

So it works ?

“We know there is definitely a difference,” Phoenix Fire said. Captain Rob McDade. This is exactly what the firefighters wanted to see – for everyone’s safety.

After years of performing dangerous mountain rescues in the extreme heat of Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak, the pilot program was the first time the City of Phoenix has closed specific mountain trails when excessive heat monitoring was required. issued.

“Based on the data we have, we believe this has been successful so far,” McDade said.

Here’s what the city’s data shows:

  • The trail closure program began July 16.
  • On Camelback Mountain from June 1 to July 16, there were 16 mountain rescues, on the hottest days we have had this year.

From July 16 until now, there have been 7 mountain rescues.

  • On Piestewa Peak from June 1 to July 16, there were 7 mountain rescues. From July 16 until today, there have only been 4.
  • The two mountains have had no rescues so far in September, and those numbers are down considerably from the total summer rescues over the past 3 years.

McDade said there was another benefit from the start of the program. “We did not have any of our firefighters transported from a mountain rescue incident to the hospital for heat exhaustion,” McDade said.

McDade also emphasizes the amount of personnel required for mountain rescues and the strain that this entails.

Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak trails will be closed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“You will see over two dozen to 30 firefighters on a mountain rescue call and yes, while our system can absorb that, it puts a strain on our system,” McDade said. With these firefighters available, they can respond more quickly to nearby calls.

So the big question: what now? The pilot program ends September 30.

McDade said they could bring their concerns to the Parks and Recreation Council, but that ultimately the council will decide whether the program is extended, changes and whether it will be reinstated. next year.

The city of Scottsdale also has some rough trails and a hiker just died in the heat last Sunday. The Scottsdale Fire Chief said the department is monitoring the effectiveness of the Phoenix program to potentially be implemented in Scottsdale in the future.

Copyright 2021 KPHO / KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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