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    Chris Hill

    Search and Rescue (SAR) and Fatalities in Mount Rainier National Park (MORA) 2010-2015: Location and Altitude Data May Enhance SAR Training and Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR)
    Abstracts from the 7th World Congress of Mountain & Wilderness Medicine, Brian Scheele, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach, FL, USA


    Introduction.—Visits to our national parks number in the millions each year. Despite efforts by search and rescue (SAR) personnel to aid visitors, fatalities do occur. Mount Rainier National Park (MORA) encompasses 236,381 acres (956.60 km2 [369.35 miles]) and is centered around the stratovolcano Mount Rainier (4,392 m [14,411 feet]).

    Objectives.—To provide an initial source of reference in the medical literature describing publicly available data on SAR and fatalities in MORA and to quantify location and altitude data regarding fatalities that required SAR activation in MORA to enhance SAR preparedness and PSAR activity.

    Methods.—A retrospective review of a National Park Service publicly available database.

    Results.—Between January 2010 and September 2015, 239 SARs and 41 fatalities occurred in MORA. Fatalities occurred in 22 defined locations, with 3 fatality locations unknown. Not all fatalities involved SAR. Thirty-two fatalities (78%) were related to activity of 24 SARs (10%), and 9 fatalities (12%) were unrelated to SAR activity. Location of the 32 SAR-related fatalities was concentrated in 18 defined locations with 2 fatality locations unknown. Seven locations had more than one SAR-related fatality, yet only 2 individual SARs were related to more than one fatality. Thirteen SAR-related fatalities occurred at very high altitude (>3500 m [>11482 feet]), 12 at high altitude (1500–3500 m [4921–11,482 feet]), and 7 at low altitude (1500 m [4921 feet]). SAR-related fatalities occurred at a mean elevation of 2645 m (8679 feet), SD 1225 m (4022 feet), and interquartiles 1584 m, 2853 m, and 3825 m (Q1 5200 feet, Q2 9362 feet, Q3 12,550 feet).

    Conclusions.—Between 2010 and 2015, 10% of SAR operations within MORA involved fatalities, and 78% of these SARs were located at high or very high altitude. These SAR operations and fatalities were located in distinct areas within MORA. SAR training and PSAR operations may benefit from quantified location and altitude-specific data.

    • This topic was modified 4 years, 12 months ago by Chris Hill.
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 12 months ago by Chris Hill.
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 12 months ago by Chris Hill.
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 12 months ago by Chris Hill.
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