Report on wilderness emergency assistance in Utah

Paul Auerbach, M.D. has an interesting review about report on Search and Rescue and EMS in Utah’s National Parks.

For a five year period, emergency medical (EMS) calls, at about 1000 per year, were about twice the search and rescue (SAR) calls. The SAR responses averaged a cost of about $600 each.

In addition to identifying the specific parks needing EMS and SAR support, this study points out that there is a predictability to the nature of incidents, as well the expense of providing support. Interestingly, it was not possible to determine if the availability of mobile (cellular) phones, which were used to initiate 21% of SAR operations, made it easier to seek help and thereby somehow increased the number of operations. In more detailed analysis, the authors concluded that judgment errors, inadequate preparation and experience, physical conditioning, falls, and darkness were common factors contributing to the need for SAR. If for no reason other than this observation, the study is important support for education programs and resource allocation planning for EMS, SAR, and medical support in wilderness recreation areas.

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