Hikers, overcome by heat, rescued on PCT after running out of water


A Salem couple hiking the Pacific Crest Trail Thursday was overcome with heat and ran out of water, requiring a Life Flight to rescue from the trail.

Deschutes County Search and Rescue Coordinator Lt. Bryan Husband said dispatch received a call around 4:20 Thursday that two hikers on the PCT were suffering from heat-related issues and needed immediate assistance.

A SAR unit was dispatched to contact the International Emergency Response Coordination Center, who had received an “SOS” alert from one of their subscribers.

The subscribers, Kurt Atkin and his wife Kelly Atkin, owned a text capable GPS device and were able to transmit not only their location but also that Kurt was experiencing a heat-related medical emergency.

The Atkin’s were about six miles south of Big Lake on the PCT.

Husband said the pair had parked at Big Lake with the plan of hiking into George Lake, but due to the hot temperatures, had consumed all of their water prior to arriving.

They were unable to make it the rest of the way to George Lake (their closest water source) and were unable to hike back to their vehicle at Big Lake.

SAR crews guessed it would take three hours or more for DCSO SAR members to access the Atkin’s location by ground.

Due to the medical emergency, Life Flight was contacted, who agreed to fly to the Atkins location and attempt to locate a nearby landing zone.

Life Flight arrived in the area of the Atkins and visually located them from the air.

The closest suitable landing zone was located about .3 miles from their location.

The Life Flight helicopter landed and the crew then hiked to the Atkin’s location, beginning treatment of Mr. Atkin at approximately 5:50 p.m., Husband said.

They were ultimately able to walk the Atkin’s back to the landing zone and while Mr. Atkin received additional treatment there, fly Mrs. Atkin to a nearby location, where DCSO SAR Volunteers were waiting to receive her.

Life Flight then flew back to the landing zone, where they retrieved their medical crew member and Mr. Atkin, ultimately transporting him to St. Charles Hospital in Redmond for further treatment.

DCSO SAR Volunteers helped Mrs. Atkin by driving her back to her vehicle at Big Lake.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Life Flight for their assistance with this rescue.

They played a key role in helping ensure Mr. Atkin received medical attention as soon as possible, Husband said.

It should be noted, the Atkin’s are experienced hikers, but due to the hot temperatures consumed their water supply faster than expected.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office would like to caution those planning to recreate in our backcountry, especially during the next several days where temperatures are expected to be very hot.

Take advantage of early morning hours when temperatures are cooler and plan on taking extra water, which is included in the “10 Essentials” of outdoor recreation.


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