In the past two weeks, agencies that respond to the Shawnee National Forest have had an upturn in the number of responses being made to this recreational area.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, Saline County responded to the Garden of the Gods, for three separate incidents. A 19 year of age, woman from the Chicago area, fell and suffered a leg and ankle injury, a few minutes later, a female from the Kansas City area, fell and broke her hip and then a few minutes later a child had a heat related issue.
In addition, Pope County responders to Burden Falls, another agency that responds to the Shawnee National Forest, had a female from the Alton area fall to her death earlier last week.
Furthermore, both agencies responded to several call of people being lost in the forest. Lost hikers take time and resources, to locate the individuals and return them back to safety.
Garden of the Gods is a wilderness area with several hiking trails and out cropping of rockformations, in Southeast Saline County, about 12 miles southeast of Harrisburg and Burden Fallsis a natural rock formation that often has water falling over the rocks in Northwest Pope County.
Saline County Central Dispatch often receives these calls to Garden of the Gods and Shawnee Forest Areas and then dispatches the appropriate agency to the emergency.
Saline County Sheriff Keith Brown reminds visitors to the Garden of the Gods area, that they should wear appropriate shoes and clothing, bring water, and a fully charged cell phone. In addition, let someone know where you are going and what time you should be returning.” “This is a wilderness area and there is wildlife in the area, that includes snakes, it takes awhile for first responders to arrive to the park and the even longer to locate someone in the park,” said Sheriff Brown.
“The Garden of the Gods area doesn’t have good cellular phone coverage, so being dependent on a cell phone is not always an option. Bring a whistle or something that might get some ones attention if you become lost,” continued Sheriff Brown.
Saline County 911 does have the ability to receive text messaging for 911, and has used this technology previously to aide lost hikers out of the park as well.