Search and rescue crews noticing rise in rescue calls across western Washington
King County's trailheads have had overflowing parking lots this summer. Local outdoor spaces have been busier than ever, and so have the volunteers with King County Search and Rescue.
According to Nathan Lorance, vice president of the King County Search and Rescue Association, "2019 was record breaking for us with 198 total mission activations."
While the county hasn't seen those record numbers in 2020, yet, search and rescue personnel like Lorance are noticing a considerable spike in rescue calls this summer.
"This year, we're not quite up to those numbers yet, but this summer has made up for it," Lorance said. "We've had the busiest July on record with just back-to-back missions. I think we had 28 straight days of mission activations."
Meanwhile, some trailheads have become so crowded they're now closed to the public.
Starting Saturday, Aug. 22, outdoor access around Lake Cushman will also be restricted.
The National Park Service says the popular spot in the Olympic National Park is getting so crowded that it's creating unsafe conditions. Access to the lake, day-use sites, and trailheads will now stay closed until the weather cools down and visitation returns to, what officials call, "a manageable level."
But Lorance says that unfortunately just pushes the problem further down the road.
"One of the biggest challenges we've encountered is quite literally just driving to the location of the 911 call," Lorance said. "If the trail is blocked by other vehicles, we can't get ourselves or our aid car in to assist that injured hiker."
He's asking hikers to have a back-up plan, so if your preferred trail is over-crowded, you can go somewhere else.
And if you're heading to the water, don't forget your life jacket.
The Seattle Fire Department says there have been three presumed drownings in Lake Washington in the past couple weeks. Two of the victims have been recovered. The third person is still missing.