By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There have been more than a dozen rescue calls at a popular Maryland trail recently, caused by an epidemic of injured and stranded hikers over the past few days in the extreme heat.

Rescue crews have been swarming the Billy Goat Trail in Montgomery County lately because of hikers breaking bones, and even passing out from the heat.

There’s been close to 20 rescue calls in less than two weeks.

It’s an area that’s wildly popular, but as much as it’s known for its beauty, the Billy Goat Trail has turned into a hot spot for rescues.

“It is dangerous,” said Pete Piringer, with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue. “It looks nice, peaceful, tranquil, but it is dangerous.”

Heart pounding moments show a woman with a broken ankle being taken off on a stretcher.

Rescue boats were also dispatched to find a man suffering from heat exhaustion.

“I think everyone likes to give it a shot, but it’s taxing,” said one man who had to be rescued.

Both of those rescues were part of an epidemic of injured or stranded hikers in recent days.

“Most have been for injured people. They fall and might have a head injury, or they fall and they have issues with their leg or ankle,” Piringer said.

Officials say it’s not just an influx of rescue calls over the holiday weekend, but between the trails and the water, there’s more than 400 calls every year.

One family from Chicago found out just how dangerous the A section of the Billy Goat Trial can be.

“There’s lots of jagged rocks you have to climb up and maneuver through. You have to look down, watch where you’re going, watch where you’re stepping,” the family said.

On Wednesday, Montgomery County rescue crews were back in the water doing everything they can to become even more familiar with the area.

“As the summer arrives and the holiday season, we start to run more and more calls,” said John Kinsley, with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.

When it comes to finding these victims, time is of the essence. Every second is crucial.

“It is serious and time dependent in some cases to get to victims quickly,” Kinsley said.

And it can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

“If you’re going to attempt Billy Goat Trail, make sure you have realistic expectations on the trail and what you can do,” said rescuer David Devore.

Of course the Potomac River is accessed by the trail, and officials say they average two to three deaths just on the water every year.

Rescuers urge hikers to carry lots of water, wear hiking shoes, and bring a charged cell phone when using the trail.

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Rick Ritter


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