By Julie A. Pace
How many helicopter rescues occur on Camelback Mountain?
In 2016, there were 84 rescue responses with 86 individuals rescued at Camelback Mountain. The helicopter hoist was used 41 times, and there were 28 two skid landings. Helicopter lights also were used to assist lost hikers off the mountain at night.
In 2016, two fatalities occurred on Camelback Mountain. The rescue helicopter was dispatched to recover the bodies. It takes about 18 minutes from hangar to hangar to address Camelback Mountain responses.
The Phoenix Fire and Police Mountain Rescue team handles hiker rescues on Camelback Mountain. The Phoenix rescue team has two helicopters. All pilots are police officers. It is a unique and collaborative effort between medical, fire, and police to have this skilled team available to the community.
Landings and take offs are still the largest risk regarding helicopter usage. The Fire Department often is on foot going up the mountain, while the air support is assisting.
Drone incursion is a serious safety issue for the helicopters. It is difficult to detect drones. For safety reasons, it may be helpful to limit recreational drones being used on Camelback given the number of rescues that this team is performing.
It is important to minimize hiker rescues. As a result, the ACOPS committee provides Town resorts the flyer “Take a Hike, Do It Right.” Locals and visitors should know the risks of hiking Camelback, including lack of water and a misunderstanding of the trail risks.
Phoenix Police and Fire are proud that they are the only model in the country that works together instead of having separate units. This improves efficiency and enhances communication and a collaborative effort to benefit all of the community.