Vt. search and rescue officials say hiker distress calls skyrocketing

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 5:30 PM EDT
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STOWE, Vt. (WCAX) - Summer in Vermont is a great time for hiking. And every day, more and more people are hitting the trails, both seasoned hikers and newcomers. But whether you’ve been hiking your entire life or you’re just starting out, there are certain precautions you should take to avoid dangerous situations.

Hiking in the Green Mountain State can be a lot of fun, however, it can go from fun to dangerous very quickly. That’s why rescuers say being prepared and knowing what to do in a given situation should be a top priority.

“Keeping safety in the front of your mind is important -- just because you don’t know if you can get the help,” said Regan Kelly with Smuggler’s Notch State Park.

Rescue teams say the number of calls they’ve received this year has skyrocketed and is cause for concern. “We used to get about 35 calls a year at Stowe Mountain Rescue and now we’re pushing about 60 a year, so it’s almost doubled,” said the group’s Tom Rogers.

Whether you slip, trip, or tumble, rescuers say that even the slightest misstep can lead to a hazardous situation. “Don’t just be taking selfies, taking pictures -- look around you and make sure that you’re not gonna take a step back off a cliff,” advised hiker Brandon Andrusic.

And Rogers says be prepared to protect yourself and others. “Always, always bring appropriate clothing and food and water when you’re out in the backcountry. And one of the big ones is to make sure that your phone is well charged. A day can turn rainy or breezy or cold really quickly. Most of the people that we’re treating -- even in Vermont in the summertime -- do have some symptoms of hypothermia,” Rogers said.

“It’s not just yourself you’re putting in danger, you’re putting rescuers in danger as well. So, they’re gonna risk their lives to rescue you from a situation you probably shouldn’t have been in in the first place,” Andrusic said.

And rescue teams also say that although staying safe while hiking is your responsibility, they will always do their best to make sure you make it out safe. “Nobody wants to call us, nobody wants to be rescued, so the best thing they can do is to be prepared ahead of time so that they don’t have to,” Rogers said.

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