ATCEMS and AFD respond to surge of stranded and hurt hikers


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Emergency officials are warning outdoor enthusiasts about the dangers of hiking after emergency crews responded to several land rescues over the past week.

According to a tweet posted Sunday by Austin-Travis County EMS, first responders responded to nine land rescues over a seven-day period. Injuries ranged from minor to life-threatening.

They don’t know what to look for, how to prepare themselves, they don’t know what to tell people or how long they are going to be gone. And that sometimes creates an issue,” said special operations Commander Smith  with the ATCEMS.

ATCEMS and AFD first responders also offered these tips to hikers:

  • Know where you are: Pay attention to trail signs and make note of major landmarks along the way.
  • Stay charged: Keep your cell phone available throughout the hike. Tell your friends which trail you plan on tackling before you go.
  • Be nice to your feet: Bring supportive shoes for the hike you plan to go on.
  • Weather awareness: Check the forecast with KXAN Weather before you head out the door.
  • Bring Water: Drink plenty before you go and make sure to pack enough to last you through the day.
  • Meds and Safety: Know your own medical needs and conditions and take the necessary precautions.

As long as hikers come ready, Commander Smith encourages everyone to enjoy the trails in our city safely and responsibly.

If you are going to a green space, know that it is just that. It’s a natural area. It’s unimproved. There is going to be uneven terrain and the weather can turn in a moments notice, Smith said.

Smith says he’s hearing that Greenbelt trails may look different after flooding last fall. If you plan to go out for the first time this season, expect that the terrain may have changed.

Rescues from Star Flight

Sometimes Travis County’s Star Flight helicopters are used to rescue people along the Greenbelt. And it can be costly.

If you’re rescued and taken to a hospital, it’s considered a medical transport.

Officials tell us the base charge is $15,500 dollars plus $200 for every mile from the scene to the hospital.

But if you’re picked-up and taken to safety or to a nearby ambulance there is no charge. The county covers the costs for search and rescue, fire fighting and law enforcement support.

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