PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Even though it’s only September, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office says 2022 has featured the most search and rescue calls they have received since 2017.
MSCO says they have responded to 18 search and rescue activations in Multnomah County and 14 in the Columbia River Gorge. Brian Gerkman, Search and Rescue Coordinator with MCSO, says that the department hasn’t seen numbers like this since the Eagle Creek Fire five years ago.
“It has been an extremely busy year,” he said. “We have not seen this activity since before the Eagle Creek Fire. Our search and rescue volunteers have done an exceptional job tackling trails in challenging conditions and circumstances.”
MCSO believes that the increase is due to higher visitation rates to the Columbia River Gorge now that trails have reopened, along with more people getting outdoors as pandemic precautions have dissipated. They also said that the majority of people who needed search and rescue were not prepared for trail or weather conditions, and that many hazards still exist in areas burned by the Eagle Creek Fire.
With the increase in call volume, MCSO is hoping to recruit more volunteers to serve on their search and rescue team. Young adults comprise 60% of volunteers, who work directly with sheriff’s deputies that lead and coordinate search efforts.
According to MCSO Head Advisor Ta Adams Keller, volunteers have logged over 9,000 hours so far in 2022, including 1,257 mission hours. The office says they are recruiting “dedicated, highly motivated adults, young adults and teenage volunteers that are at least 14 years old.”
MCSO is holding an orientation meeting on Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. at their training building, 3083 NE 170th Pl., Portland.
Applications for all new youth and adult members can be found on the MCSOSAR website. Any additional questions about SAR, the recruitment process and months-long training can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.