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Southern Arizona Rescue Association helps Tucson hikers beat the heat

Local organization seeks volunteers for the summer season to help prevent heat illness and trapped hikers
Posted at 11:37 PM, May 29, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Tucson is often hailed as a hiker’s paradise, but with June’s rising temperatures, it can easily turn into a hiker’s nightmare. Heat-related illnesses and sudden monsoon storms pose significant risks. 

The Southern Arizona Rescue Association (SARA) is stepping up efforts to ensure safety for those braving the trails.

Amy DiMiceli, a dedicated volunteer with SARA, emphasizes the dangers.

“Heat is a very dangerous element here,” DiMiceli said. “But not only the heat, monsoons as well. Flash floods, that quick-moving water can also be very dangerous for people out hiking.”

SARA, a volunteer-based organization, collaborates with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department to provide search and rescue services to hikers in distress. 

“Whenever someone calls 911 and is in need of search and rescue on a trail here in Pima County, the Sheriff’s Department contacts us,” DiMiceli explains. “And we will go out and provide that service.” 

For hikers willing to brave the heat, DiMiceli suggests bringing more water than you think you need and bringing along electrolyte-added beverages and salty snacks. She also says to tell a loved one that you will be hiking, where you will be and how long you expect to hike.

Another key piece of advice from SARA is not to hesitate in calling for help since early intervention can make a significant difference in rescue outcomes.

“Search and rescue services are free in the state of Arizona, so call 911 as soon as you think you might need help,” said DiMiceli.  “It’s better for us to start early than for you to call us late.” DiMiceli advises. 

With the summer season underway, SARA is actively seeking volunteers to assist in their rescue operations. 

Volunteers do not need to have a medical background and will receive training from the organization.

The first orientation for new volunteers is scheduled for Tuesday, June 4, at the SARA Center, located at 5990 Sabino Canyon Rd. A second orientation takes place on Thursday, July 11. Both orientations are held at 7 p.m. Those interested can register on SARA’s website.

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Joel Foster is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9 who previously worked as an English teacher in both Boston and the Tucson area. Joel has experience working with web, print and video in the tech, finance, nonprofit and the public sectors. In his off-time, you might catch Joel taking part in Tucson's local comedy scene. Share your story ideas with Joel at joel.foster@kgun9.com, or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram or X.