EMS Reports a 225% Hike in Helicopter Rescues in Orange County, CA

Source: Courtesy: OC Fire Authority Multi-Media

Dehydration, improper attire, and poor planning by hikers in Orange County, CA have resulted in an inordinate increase in helicopter rescues.

EMS1 reports that the shuttering of indoor gyms during the coronavirus pandemic has caused more people to exercise on the county’s trails.

In 2018, first responders conducted 36 rescues between May and July — last year, 37 requests for service were made during the same time period.

By comparison, this year, helicopter crews have been called to assist residents 117 times.

Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy, Drew McMillan, a paramedic who copilots a UH-1H “Huey” helicopter, said many rescues could have been prevented with proper planning.

He offered the following tips for people thinking of going out during current high temperatures:

  • Tell somebody where you’re going and when you’ll be back. That way they’ll know when to call for emergency response;
  • Look for trail markers and names, as well as landmarks you can describe to first responders searching for you, so they can pinpoint your exact location; and
  • If an aircrew is looking for you, make your presence known by standing in the open and waving your arms wide so you can be seen.

According to AirMed&Rescue, OCFA firefighter Dan Dufrene said since crew members are trained to protect lives over property, responding to a rescue call takes precedence over fighting a vegetation fire.

“If you’re unprepared and you’re out, and you didn’t bring appropriate water … and we respond out to you, you could be pulling us away from a vegetation fire that could cause folks to lose their homes,” Dufrene said. “Please understand that your actions could have a larger impact than just yourself.”

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