Preventive Search and Rescue (PSAR)
Down is optional, up is mandatory.
Saving Lives at Grand Canyon
The extreme environment of Grand Canyon is like none other, yet people from all over the world come to experience the unique adventure of hiking into the canyon. Tragically, each year some lives are lost and many rescues are performed – often because people did not understand their limitations in the harsh, but beautiful environment.
The Preventive Search and Rescue (PSAR) team helps educate visitors about the extreme conditions and provides support to those people who need help hiking in the canyon. The team is mostly comprised of an incredible group of volunteers who dedicate their time talking to people, asking questions like: Do you know how far your hike is? How much water do you have? Do you know what the temperature is at Phantom Ranch? When necessary, they will encourage and help people turn back if there is a concern about their preparedness.
Grand Canyon Conservancy helps to fund training for PSAR volunteers and provides equipment and gear for volunteers, including the snacks handed out to hikers in need on the trail.
On April 27-29, 2023, Grand Canyon National Park hosted a Preventive Search and Rescue Symposium where PSAR employees and volunteers from 31 different National Park Service gathered to share best practices and lessons learned in the field, examine case reviews, and perform trainings.
Program managers and volunteers from across the country attended sessions covering a variety of topics, such as heat illness and hyponatremia, the effectiveness of messaging and signage, the importance of tracking your impact and measuring prevention, program planning, volunteer management and risk mitigation, trail and radio scenarios and peer support and self-care.
Meghan SmithPSAR Coordinator Grand Canyon National Park
“The quality of education and success of the symposium made possible by GCC is now the model for other parks wanting to replicate this training.”