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Message to all wilderness users:

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to spread, and with many local governments requiring people to avoid congregating in groups, many people are turning to the outdoors for recreation and entertainment. The increased traffic has led to—and will no doubt continue to lead to—an increased number of search and rescue callouts.

The vast majority of SAR personnel in the U.S. are volunteers. We all have families, and we always try to balance our personal lives with our desire to help those in need. During this time, we ask all wilderness users to enjoy the wilderness in a safer and more conservative manner than normal. If you’re an avid peak bagger or canyoneer, we ask that you consider simply going for a hike instead of something more challenging. If you’re new to hiking, please do some research before you go, select a hike that is suitable for beginners, and tell a responsible person your itinerary. While on the trail, please maintain the 6-foot social distancing recommended by the CDC. We’re not asking you to avoid the wilderness, but rather we’re asking you to do everything in your power to not need our services. This will require a conscious effort on your part. Skill, experience, and equipment are great to have, but they don’t make you immune to accidents. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes, so it’s important during these uncertain times to ensure that a simple mistake doesn’t result in an injury requiring rescue.

​Every time a SAR team gets deployed, the members of that team voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way for the sole purpose of helping someone in need. With the COVID-19 virus continuing to spread, every time a team gets called out, we now face an additional threat above and beyond the usual hazards. It’s important to remember that not all carriers of the virus are symptomatic. You may feel fine and inadvertently infect a rescuer. Or a rescuer may feel fine and inadvertently infect you. Because of this uncertainty, it’s best for everyone if you don’t get injured or lost. If you do choose to go out and enjoy the wilderness, please be mindful of all the search and rescue volunteers who are willing to put their own lives on hold in order to help those lost or injured in the wilderness. 


Art Fortini
Mountain Rescue Association

** The following is an embedded site of the home page for COVID-19 for the

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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