COVID-19 is putting intense strains on our medical system. The Inyo county sheriff’s department is acknowledging this by asking people in Inyo County to refrain from outdoor activities that could potentially lead to injury or a necessary rescue by search and rescue teams. They said in a Facebook post on March 21, 2020:
The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, on behalf of Inyo County Search and Rescue (SAR), requests that people do not take part in high risk outdoor activities at this time. Activities include backpacking, climbing, peak bagging, backcountry skiing, or anything that puts you at risk for potential rescue.
If you get sick, lost or injured and require SAR assistance, the responding team of volunteers will have to break social distancing and State mandated isolation by sharing rescue equipment, radios, and vehicles. You will be potentially taking those rescuers out of service for weeks due to post-mission quarantine protocols. In addition, many SAR teams, including ours, are operating at a diminished capacity due to many members self-isolating and not responding to operations due to age or other risk factors.
Your preventable backcountry injury will also stress ambulance and emergency room services. It is highly unlikely helicopters are available to assist in your rescue. Inyo County Sheriff’s Office DOES NOT own or operate any air assets, and our allied agency helicopters are currently operating at a very limited capacity.
The public can access the complete Inyo County Order, issued March 20, 2020 at: https://www.inyocounty.us/…/fil…/2020-03/ORDER_3.20.20_0.pdf.
Please visit http://inyosar.com/ for additional information about the Inyo SAR team, or to donate.
The search and rescue teams who would need to come rescue you in the event that you are injured in the wilderness would have to break social distancing protocols in order to do so. You would also likely be going to a hospital that already has limited bed space due to the influx of COVID-19 cases. Inyo County just confirmed their second COVID-19 case and are expecting much more in the coming days and weeks.
Inyo county is located in the Eastern Sierra’s and it is home to some of California’s biggest peaks, including Mt. Whitney, which is the tallest peak in the Lower 48. The region is known for popular climbing in the Buttermilks near Bishop and the Alabama hills.