Jason Kandel

Rescues of Hikers Jumps 40% Over Five Years

Rescue teams are responding to more calls of stuck hikers in the Los Angeles County area mountains.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff Search and Rescue had 723 missions in 2018, a 40% increase compared to five years ago, according to LASD data provided to the NBC4 I-Team.

The I-Team went on patrol with Montrose Search & Rescue's Mike Leum and John Camphouse going deep into the Angeles National Forest.

"We are trained to track people into the forest," Leum said.

Leum and Camphouse do this on a volunteer basis and have a combined 2,500 rescues between them.

"Every weekend there's motorcycles that crash, and lately, there's been hikers that end up dehydrated because they didn't bring enough water," Leum explains could be contributing factors to the recent spike in rescues.

He also says people trying to capture the beauty of the landscape on their cell phones and smartphones can sometimes misjudge where they are.

"The selfie factor is definitely a reality," Leum added.

There are seven search and rescue teams across LA County who are always on call, including the highly-skilled, full time members of the Sheriff's Air Rescue 5.

"About 25% of our missions are activated by cell phone calls from our victims so that's fantastic because we can also extrapolate GPS location data, " Leum said. "On the downside, some people rely too much on the cell phone," he added.

They advise to put cellphones on airplane mode or turn them off until you really need them.

Also, there may not be much cell service, so let someone know where you are going before you head out for your activity.

An important resource for them is The LA County Sheriff's Department Hiking Plan.

Search and rescue crews say fill out the form which notes your starting trailhead, the name and ages of the hikers in your party, and information about what materials like water or food you are taking with you, before you set off on a hike or camping location.

Put the form on your dashboard, and if something happens, they say, rescuers can use the plan to take immediate action.

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