Search and rescue crews get ready for busy summer

Multnomah County teams train year-round for rescues

Multnomah County Search & Rescue crews, July 12, 2015 (Multnomah County)
A file photo of a search and rescue sign. (Multnomah County)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Search and rescue crews are gearing up for another busy summer.

With the weather improving, crews are reminding hikers to plan ahead and be prepared. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office did a demonstration Thursday to show how they respond to emergencies.

The sheriff’s office sees a lot of activity in the summer, especially in the Columbia River Gorge.

The Columbia River Gorge. (KOIN)
The Columbia River Gorge. (KOIN)

“It is a gem and an area we want a lot of people to enjoy but we want them to do it in a safe fashion,” Sheriff Mike Reese said. “It the short time I’ve been sheriff we’ve lost too many people up in our Gorge who have been out there hiking. And maybe not as well prepared as we would hope.”

The sheriff’s office estimates they had about 40 missions in the Gorge last year alone.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an uncategorically high number of searches this year over others,” Lt. Chad Gaidos said. “We see a lot of searches in the Gorge it’s not hard to get hurt.”

Roughly 80 volunteers with the search and rescue team are ready to respond, training throughout much of the year for missions.

“I remember the first time that I got to walk a subject out to her family” volunteer Will Heines said. “It was a life changing experience.”

Tips for safe hiking

Rescuers said some of the biggest mistakes hikers make are choosing a trail that is beyond their abilities, not telling someone where they’re going and when to expect them back.

“And then there’s the ones where people don’t prepare,” search and rescue coordinator Lt. James Eriksen said. “They don’t tell friends or family where they are going, when they’re expected to be back. We happen to find your vehicle in the parking lot we have no idea where to go. So those are the ones that are more difficult.”

Hikers should also know how long their hike will take and current trail conditions.

“This year again, there’s a lot more water out there, we’ve got some wash out on trails,” Gaidos said. “Some changes in the trails and that may lead to some different terrain than people are accustomed to seeing.”

Crews say hikers should always carry these essentials: A map, sunscreen and sunglasses, a fire starter, extra clothes and rain gear, a headlamp and flashlight, first aid supplies, water, a knife or multi tool and extra food.