The Phoenix Mountain Preserve hiking trails continue to beckon hikers, despite the oppressive desert heat. The Phoenix Fire Department has responded to 117 "mountain rescue" calls so far this year. That's more than at this time last year, and it's two-thirds of the total number of mountain rescue calls for all of last year.
Most recently, the fire department answered two separate mountain rescue calls on Tusday of this week, both of them on Camelback Mountain, one of which involved a hiker at the top of the mountain.
Fire captain Jonathan Jacobs says the mistake many hikers make is that they don't realize the impact that the heat can have on their body. Unless a hiker drinks plenty of water both before and during the hike, it doesn't take long for the body to show the effects of heat exhaustion, followed by heat stroke, when the body all but shuts down.
Jacobs says the mountain rescue calls are difficult on fire rescue personnel. Even though many of them hike the mountain trails on summer mornings to stay in shape, they have to carry a full medical kit as well as a "technical rescue kit" on rescue calls. The technical rescue kits weigh about 100 pounds are are carried on the firefighters' backs.
Capt. Jacobs suggests that if you hike the mountains – in the summer or any time – you carry water, a cell phone, and a basic first aid kit in case of emergency.