PHX FD stresses hiking and climbing safety

Posted at 10:03 PM, May 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-02 01:34:15-04

After two people died in recent days from injuries suffered while exploring outdoors, first responders want to emphasize hiking and climbing safety as summer approaches.

So far this year, the Phoenix Fire Department has performed almost 80 mountain rescues, according to Capt. Ardell Deliz.

That includes a rescue last month of a climber who fell about 100 feet in Echo Canyon. On Sunday, the family of Makayla Castro said the Grand Canyon University student died from her injuries.

Yavapai County said 79-year-old Duane Wood died after falling about 50 feet while hiking Turret Peak earlier in the week.

Deliz says most of the time hikers simply aren't prepared.

"It doesn't really seem like a big deal until you're in that position where you're thirsty, you don't have enough water, you don't have any food, and now you're feeling dizzy," Deliz said.

Not wearing the proper shoes can also become a hazard on the rocky terrain.

"This is what gets people in trouble too- [hiking] in flip flops,” Deliz said while walking with ABC15 at Piestewa Peak.

There, hikers Clayton Grubb and Melissa Fuquay researched their trail options before heading up the mountain.

"They just had the levels of difficult for them, we figured we're active enough people [that] moderate would be a reasonable difficulty for us,” Grubb said.

"We brought a lot of water, water for them [dogs], a couple bowls for them, and then Gatorade and stuff for us, and sweaters in case we get cold,” Fuquay said.

And there's a good reason why first responders want hikers to stay on the paths.

"If you're calling for help, and you really don't know the area, you're going to have a hard time describing to first responders how it is that we're going to get there to help you out," Deliz said.

According to the Phoenix Fire Department, it is the busiest department in the world for mountain rescues. This year, officials expect to respond to about 200 rescues.