Dehydration causing issues for hikers

Charity Wessel

By Charity Wessel

Last week our area of South Dakota had back-to-back medical emergencies involving dehydrated hikers.
Maxwell Right, a 22-year-old male on a celebratory college graduation hike July 20, died from suspected dehydration on a trail in the Badlands.
Pennington County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a call from Right’s hiking partner, and  then the sheriff’s office tweeted later in the day that Right “ran out of water and collapsed.”
Custer Ambulance Service and Custer Search and Rescue responded July 21 to a call for help on a trail near Little Devil’s Tower. This hiker ran out of water and called 911 to rescue herself. Dispatch pin pointed the hiker’s location and rescue services used wilderness medicine treatments to improve her condition.
Custer Search and Rescue director Sam Smolnisky said this call was similar to several calls they’d had recently “where hikers were experiencing some sort of dehydration.”
Smolnisky said a common problem is that hikers “run out of water because their hike takes longer than anticipated, or the weather is warmer than they anticipated.”
Smolnisky couldn’t comment on specifics about the recent Badlands hiking tragedy, but he sends sympathies to Right’s family and the authorities who arrived on scene. Smolnisky said the Badlands temperature can be “unforgiving, especially because there’s little wind and limited shade.”
Custer Search and Rescue’s tips for hiking safely this summer:
• When you’re packing for a hike, include more water than what you expect to need. Also, drink a lot of water before your hike.
• Research the elevation, weather, cell service and entire distance of the hiking trail.  
• Recognize if you or your hiking partner is sick (nausea, irritability, dizzy, fainting) or low on water, and then contact 911 via call/text.

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