During the past month Sierra Madre Search and Rescue (SMSR) responded to nine calls for assistance.
Fallen Hiker, Chantry Flat: The Team was called to Chantry Flat to aid a hiker who had fallen in an off-trail location. SMSR members responded to the site with a backpack-sized medical kit and determined the patient had fallen from a cliff approximately 40 feet high, suffering extensive injuries. EMT-certified Team members treated and stabilized the patient, who was evacuated via litter wheel-out to an ambulance at Chantry Flat.
Overdue Hiker: Montrose Search and Rescue notified SMSR that it was searching for an overdue hiker who was believed to be heading toward Sierra Madre. The Team launched a comprehensive search of area trails, sending several crews into the field on foot and in vehicles. An SMSR crew located the subject in good condition and escorted them to family members waiting at Chantry Flat.
Heat Exhaustion, Big Santa Anita Canyon: SMSR responded to a report of a hiker in distress near Hoegee’s Camp in Big Santa Anita Canyon. The hiker was determined to be suffering from heat-related illness and was treated by paramedics from the Sierra Madre Fire Department, and EMT-certified Search and Rescue Team members. The patient was then evacuated to an ambulance waiting at Chantry Flat.
Environmental exposure is a common cause of emergencies in the back country. In Southern California at this time of year, hikers, bikers, runners, and others who enjoy the local mountains are particularly at risk for heat-related illness. This can be as mild as heat cramps–painful muscle spasms–or as serious as heat stroke, which is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate intervention.
Tommy Ingulfsen, Chairman of SMSR’s Medical Committee, says: “The chance of developing a heat-related illness may be aggravated by pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease and obesity, as well as the use of alcohol and drugs.” Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk since their ability to regulate body temperature is reduced.
Ingulfsen adds: “In hot weather it is a good idea to keep outdoor activity to a moderate level and stay in the shade as much as possible. Also make sure to stay well hydrated.” Ingulfsen advises that in addition to drinking water, sports drinks that contain sodium are good for replacing electrolytes.
Some common symptoms of heat-related illness include headache, lightheadedness, cramps, dizziness and vomiting. “If you or a friend develop any of these signs,” says Ingulfsen, “cease activity, find a cool place to rest and consider calling for help.”
The Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that has been serving the local community for 60 years. SMSR is funded entirely by donations and never charges for any of its services. The Team provides a range of public programs on wilderness safety in addition to its search and rescue activities.