Local rescue teams discuss safety tips and training

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Spring weather means hikers and bikers are heading back to the trails.

An increase in outdoor activity means local search and rescue squads are on alert.

“Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are going to have to be rescued,” said Tim Luttrell, a rescue technician with Hawkins County Search and Rescue, “just be situationally aware.”

Luttrell reminds hikers and bikers to be prepared as you head out on the trails or you could be getting a visit from them.

But what exactly does one of these operations require?

“It depends upon the different type of rescue,” he said, “if we’re talking about a search and rescue operation, it usually involves a lot of people.”

Luttrell said his group frequently provides mutual aid to several counties.

That means performing all sorts of operations including high-angle, low-angle rope rescues, water rescues and search and rescues. 

“Generally, what happens is we have a team that is going to go out first and maybe two or three people, to determine whether or not there is a rescue,” he said, “but if it requires more than that, then yes we’re going to have a basket, we’re going to have to have medical equipment, we’re going to have a lot of people, so it is a major event.”

Helpful rescue tools can also include K-9’s, infared systems and helicopters.

“So times you go months and months without any and sometimes you have four or five in a week,” said Dale Dodds, state president for the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads and a life-time member of the Greeneville Emergency and Rescue Squad, “so it just depends.”

Dodds estimates they complete a dozen rescue missions a year.

He said personal location devices are making these operations easier.

“With the locators it’s a little easier for us because we get an actual location on them,” said Dodds, “which we can then look at a map and see what’s the quicket access to them.”

But Luttrell said he’s still seeing many common mistakes made while hiking. 

“One thing I notice in many cases, they’re alone,” he said, “that is a huge mistake.”

Some basic hiking and biking safety tips both men want you to remember is to always bring someone along with you, tell someone where you are going and be overly prepared in case of an emergency.

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