More Hikers Needing Rescue In The Gorge

Photo: Ford, Brad

The year is not over, and already the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has responded to more search and rescue calls than in any other year since the Eagle Creek Fire.

So far in 2022, MCSO has responded to:

  • 18 SAR activations in Multnomah County;
  • 14 SAR activations in the Columbia River Gorge, including 11 SAR activations since May and 5 SAR activations in August. Two SAR activations involved responding to fatal falls.

“It has been an extremely busy year,” Search and Rescue Coordinator Sergeant Brian Gerkman said. “We have not seen this activity since before the Eagle Creek Fire. Our search and rescue volunteers have done an exceptional job tackling trails in challenging conditions and circumstances.”

Search and rescue members believe the increase in activations can be attributed to the higher visitation rates to the Columbia River Gorge, with trails reopening post-fire and renewed interest in the outdoors post-pandemic.

We’ve found that the majority of people who need rescue are not prepared for trail and weather conditions or become disoriented and lost because they are unfamiliar with the area. And, hazards still exist in areas burned by the Eagle Creek Fire.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office partners exclusively with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue program, which is referred to as MCSOSAR. The 501(c)3 program is volunteer-based and majority youth. MCSOSAR volunteers work directly with sheriff’s deputies, who lead and coordinate search efforts.

MCSOSAR Head Advisor Ta Adams Keller says volunteer searchers have logged more than 9,000 hours combined this year, on the trail, and attending trainings and other community events.

Additional MCSOSAR statistics include:

  • 81 active search and rescue volunteers;
  • Volunteers have logged 1,257 mission hours in 2022;
  • Young adults comprise 60-percent of the general membership;
  • MCSOSAR is the second longest active search and rescue team in the region, operating since 1961.

MCSOSAR is currently recruiting dedicated, highly motivated adults, young adults and teenage volunteers that are at least 14 years old. Anyone is welcome to attend an orientation meeting for information about the organization and training program. The final orientation meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the MCSO training building, 3083 NE 170th Pl., Portland, OR 97230. Applications for all new youth and adult members can be found on the MCSOSAR website.

Source: Multnomah County

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