It’s proving to be a busy summer for first responders along El Paso’s many hiking trails.
So far, they are dealing with an average of two rescues per week, according to Texas State Park Police.
“We’ve just had a rescue this past Sunday, and the week before that we had a couple rescues. So we’re averaging about two per week,” State Park Police Officer Jonathan Murphy said.
El Paso has more than 100 miles of hiking trails, offering some of the most beautiful sights in the world, but also posing very hazardous terrain.
Murphy said the most dangerous trails in El Paso are the Ron Coleman and McKelligon Canyon trails.
Recent rain across the Borderland are also posing an increased risk with more humidity and potential for loose rock along the trails.
When a hiker is in peril State Park Police will call in the Combined Search and Rescue Team (COMSAR) to help. COMSAR is well trained to carry out mountain rescues. The team is led by Battalion Chief Frank Perry. He tells KTSM it can take hours in some cases before first responders can get you to safety.
Perry said it’s crucial hikers follow a few simple steps before heading off the beaten path.
“Let someone know at all times where you’re going to be, what time you expect to get off the trail. [Make sure to have] plenty of water, plenty of food if you’re going to be out there for a long time. Have a way to call for help,” Perry explained.
You should drink a liter of water for every hour of hiking.
Perry also said it’s important to have a cell phone, not only to call for help, but also because first responders can use the signal to track your location.
“If we’re given that information we’re going to get to you right away because we know exactly where you’re at,” Perry said.