Powell County Search And Rescue Team take extra precautions in heat

Posted at 11:57 PM, Jul 21, 2019

POWELL COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Rescue workers in Powell County kept a close eye on the Red River Gorge this weekend as extreme heat continued.

With temperatures in the 90's this weekend, they issued warnings for hikers to stay hydrated, take breaks, and for the less experienced hikers - to stay home.

“The conditions were overwhelming, where you walked outside and it felt like you couldn't breathe. it's almost as if you were in a vacuum with no air around you," said Public Information Officer Lisa Johnson.

Johnson said based on the number of calls the search team received, she believes people listened. But crews did respond Saturday to help a hiker who injured her ankle, and special precautions had to be taken.

“When it's in this kind of heat we go full staff with the lights, the sirens and everything because we don't want anybody sitting in the heat,” said Johnson.

She said the heat also puts rescuers in danger.

“I worry when my team has to go out, we keep in radio contact continuously. We always take two backpacks full of water. That’s our number one thing is hydration for us too. That's why we have to have at least six to eight people easily to go out. Because you have to take turns carrying that stretcher down,” said Johnson.

Johnson said, no matter the weather forecast, hikers should prepare for the worst.

Johnson also said that she's now concerned about possible flooding from rain on Sunday and Monday. She said crews will be prepared if conditions in the gorge become dangerous.