PHOENIX - Eight people were rescued from Camelback Mountain after multiple members of their hiking group began suffering from heat-related illness Thursday afternoon, Phoenix fire officials said.
A women's church group had reportedly started hiking Echo Canyon Trail at around 7:00 a.m. for a retreat. Fire officials say the group consisted of women from Alabama, Tennessee, and California, and that they were filming for a documentary called "Bad Girls Gone God," where they embark on strenuous activities to get closer to God.
"We started doing a women’s retreat every year, where we get together," said Jasmin Hunter. "We praise, we worship, and we do different activities not only to test our physical test, but spiritual as well."
The hikers reportedly told fire crews that they did not do their research before starting the hike. Several of the hikers were wheeled down the trail, and two had to be brought down by helicopter. Three were hospitalized in stable condition.
"I started getting really, really dizzy, and after a while, I just said ‘no, I can’t do this,’" Tatiana Robinson recounted.
"I barely made it down. I had an episode in the car where I almost passed out. It was a lot," said Kristen Livingston.
"Our drone was able to get up quickly, locate different groups who are separated, and let us know if they were stable and give us a visual evaluation," said Cpt. Evan Gammage with the Phoenix Fire Department.
Members of the group insist god and Arizona were on their side.
"God was definitely with us," said Robinson. "We’re thinking if they didn’t call -- I don’t know what would’ve happened, but we wouldn’t have made it, maybe."
The women who went to the hospital are 24, 42, and 50. No firefighters were injured.
Temperatures on June 22 were in the triple digits, and Arizona first responders are continuing to warn hikers about the dangers of taking on the trails in the heat.
Hiking safety tips
- Avoid drinking the night before, or drinking coffee in the morning.
- Wear the proper gear: footwear, hats, sunglasses
- Bring a fully charged phone and hike with someone
- Hydrate before, during and after a hike
- Pick a cooler time of day
- If you're hiking alone, tell someone where you're going
- Know your limitations
- Stay on the trail
Preventing heat exhaustion/heat stroke
The Arizona Department of Health Services stated the following precautions can be taken to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke:
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings
- Limit outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day (mid-day)
- Check on at-risk friends, family, and neighbors at least twice a day
- Drink water before, during, and after working or exercising outside
Take a Hike. Do it Right campaign: https://www.phoenix.gov/parks/hikeright
More heat resources: http://heataz.gov
Heat relief stations: https://www.salvationarmyphoenix.org/extreme-heat-relief