On Tuesday, June 25th, twelve Zion National Park employees graduated from a three-day basic search and rescue course. Participating were staff from various divisions, including law enforcement, interpretation, fees, wilderness, and resource management. The course was facilitated by District Ranger Ray O’Neil with assistance from law enforcement and wilderness employees.
Participants were taught to properly implement and follow the Incident Command System for several mock search and rescue incidents. They also learned effective litter carryout procedures, safe creation of anchoring systems, and the use of raising and lowering systems, all of which are essential in rescuing visitors from Zion’s challenging terrain and narrow slot canyons.
“Due to the difficult terrain in Zion, the vast majority of the park’s rescues involve the use of technical rope skills in areas that are not accessible by helicopter,” said O’Neil. “Therefore, Zion’s SAR team must be trained and ready to handle these complex rescues. Each year Zion hosts a basic SAR course to encourage park staff to be more involved in the search and rescue program. This training offers an excellent opportunity for park staff to learn the basics of technical rescues and trains the next generation of park SAR team leaders.”
Zion National Park receives approximately three million visitors annually. The Zion SAR team averages 60 search and rescue operations each year, 25 of which are considered major rescues.