Objective.—To identify the emergency medical service (EMS) workload and trends associated with search and rescue (SAR) operations in Utah's National Park Service (NPS) units.
Methods.—Data for this study were collected from the Annual Emergency Medical Services Report and the Annual Search and Rescue Report for National Park Service units in Utah from 2001–2005.
Results.—There were 4762 EMS incidents reported between 2001 and 2005, including 79 fatalities (50 traumatic; 29 nontraumatic). The most common EMS transportation method was ground (1505) and helicopter (553) transport. The heaviest trauma, medical, and cardiac workload was at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GLCA) and the heaviest first aid workload was at Zion National Park (ZION). There were 1190 SAR operations between 2001 and 2005 involving 67 fatalities, 623 ill or injured visitors, 1813 non-ill or non-injured visitors, and 92 saves. GLCA and ZION accounted for 47% and 21% of all SAR operations. The total cost of SAR operations was $1 363 920. SAR operations most commonly occurred on weekends, involved male visitors (59%), visitors aged 20–29 years (23%), and 40–49 years (20%), and visitors participating in day hiking (221), motorized boating (196), and canyoneering (98) activities. Most SAR operations were in lake (226), desert (147), and canyon (140) environments and were resolved within 24 hours.
Conclusions.—GLCA and ZION experienced heavy use of EMS resources that should be noted by EMS administrators and planners. GLCA and ZION also reported the most SAR operations. The development of techniques to prevent the need for SAR at GLCA and ZION would likely have the most potential to reduce the financial impact of SAR incidents and morbidity and mortality to visitors.