The vast majority of Yosemite visitors enjoy safe and memorable experiences of hiking, camping and spending time with family and friends. What generally goes unseen are the efforts of firefighters and search and rescue teams who tirelessly train to handle life-threatening situations within Yosemite.
Keeping Visitors Safe
Yosemite’s search and rescue teams respond to an average of 250 visitors a year in dangerous situations, such as swollen streams, climbing incidents and more. These brave men and women are required to execute hazardous and technically complex missions involving risky exposure to natural elements. For example, firefighters and park rangers are often flown by helicopter into remote areas of the park, where they must rappel out of the hovering aircraft to accomplish their mission.
Providing Safe Training Tools
Search and rescue personnel are exposed to hazardous situations not only during rescue missions, but also during training. Before construction of the rappel tower, personnel were required to train with a real helicopter, which was both dangerous and expensive. Thanks to Conservancy funding, a rappel tower was built at Crane Flat to simulate the “jump” platform of a hovering helicopter, removing the risk and costly expense from this training. This rappel program has since become a training model for other national parks.