In the COVID era, more and more people are venturing into the wild. As the wilderness became one of the only available escapes from Zoom meetings and one’s own home during the lockdown, more people began to seek the health and wellness that only nature can bestow. However, more inexperienced wilderness adventurers means more people getting lost or injured in the wilderness. Unsurprisingly, there has been a notable uptick in search and rescue (SAR) call outs since the lockdowns. This places SAR teams and their members at greater risk due to increased operational tempo. With increased call volume and stress, a SAR team member could easily become isolated due to injury during a night search or poor visibility in inclement weather. In this situation, the rescuer becomes the one needing rescue, and wilderness survival skills become essential.
SAR is an important and sometimes dangerous job for which many thousands of Americans dedicate their time. SAR operations require teams to use a broad skillset to locate and reach lost people, treat life-threatening injuries and stabilize patients for transport, and to extract them from the wilderness. This requires some level of experience in land navigation and wilderness medicine, in addition to familiarity with high angle rescue techniques and various off-road transportation modalities.