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Coconino Search And Rescue Overwhelmed With Calls

September is a popular month for exploring northern Arizona’s forests and canyons. Turns out it’s also a popular time to get lost.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office responded to more than 35 search and rescue calls in 20 days. 

Coconino County receives on average 300 calls a year and typically responds to a third of those. Operations Commander Rex Gilliland said Coconino relies on its patrol officers and volunteers to handle search and rescue calls. 

“What’s been alarming about September is these weren’t one call per day,” Gilliland said. “There were several days where we had 3, 4 or 5 calls at a time we were trying to handle.”

There were several lost and injured hikers and all terrain vehicle riders, one ATV death and a climber who was impaled by an agave plant. Several people became stranded by flash floods.

In addition to current weather reports, Gilliland said it’s important to have a well-researched plan, plenty of water, food, a flashlight and someone who knows your itinerary.

Laurel Morales was a Fronteras Desk reporter in Flagstaff from 2011 to 2020.