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Boise Fire seeing increase in calls for help in the Foothills

Boise Foothills
Posted at 10:40 AM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 10:10:49-04

BOISE, Idaho — The Boise Fire Department and Ridge to Rivers are reminding people to be prepared when headed to the Boise Foothills. Traffic on the trails has tripled over the past year and with the increase in use, Boise Fire is seeing a rise in calls for help.

The Boise Fire Department is partnering with the Ridge to Rivers team to provide important safety reminders.

“The Ridge to Rivers Trail System is an incredible amenity and with the increase in use we want to remind trail users to be prepared with the right equipment, including packing enough water and bringing a cell phone while hiking or riding in the Boise Foothills,” said Boise Fire Battalion Chief Terry Theriot. “It’s often difficult for rescue teams to quickly access different areas of the foothills, so you may see us responding on all-terrain vehicles or electric motorcycles.”

A joint news release said firefighters made 23 technical foothills rescues in 2020. The department added a new electric motorcycle because of the growing number of calls. Boise Fire vehicles are marked with logos, even if the crew member is not wearing a Boise Fire uniform.

"Over the last three years, we have seen a steady trend upward in the call volume," Shawn Res, Boise Fire Captain said. "The calls are ranging from people getting lost, people going out without enough fluids and getting heat exhaustion, and we have a good fair share of traumatic injuries."

The release says it is important to understand emergency responders may also be using these vehicles on trails where motorized vehicles are not normally allowed. Crew members will always try to announce themselves when passing people on the trails and appreciate people stepping off to allow them to pass.

“Summer is the busiest season on the trails, and we encourage everyone to know their limits and be careful,” said David Gordon, Ridge to Rivers program manager. “It’s up to all of us to be kind, mindful and prepared when we recreate in the foothills out of respect for all users.”

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind this summer:

  • Use the buddy system – hike or ride with someone else when you can
  • If you do go out alone, always tell someone where you’re going (be as specific as possible) and when you plan to return
  • Bring plenty of water for you and your pet
  • Wear appropriate clothing and safety gear for your activity – wear sturdy hiking boots, mountain bikers should wear a helmet and bell, etc.
  • If you hit the trail at dusk or dawn, bring a headlamp or flashlight with you
  • Bring a cell phone to call for help if needed, but keep in mind there are some foothills locations where service is unavailable
  • Have a backup plan