Warning after hiker rescue

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Adam PoulsenGeraldton Guardian
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With the arrival of hotter weather, the manager of the State Emergency Service Kalbarri unit is warning hikers to plan ahead when visiting Kalbarri National Park.

His comments come after a middle-aged German tourist had to be rescued from the park’s popular loop trail earlier this month after she suffered heat exposure.

The Kalbarri State Emergency Service and St John Ambulance volunteers were called about 4pm on Sunday, November 5, after the woman’s husband raised the alarm.

Kalbarri SES unit manager Stephen Cable said conditions were very hot and the woman was lucky the situation did not escalate.

“She was OK, but if she had kept going she could have easily gone into heat exhaustion and there would have been major problems then,” he said.

“She just got to the stage that she knew she was completely exhausted and her body was over-heated, which is very dangerous if you don’t deal with that straight away.

“It would have been far too dangerous to walk her out because she could have easily gone into collapse, so we carried her for a while, and then we were able to use the mule to wheel her out.”

Temperatures at Kalbarri reached a top of 38C on the day of the rescue, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

But Mr Cable said temperatures in the gorges could easily rise to 15C higher.

“If you go inland half a kilometre there’s no sea breeze, then when you get out into the gorge the radiated heat gets very, very hot.”

Mr Cable said walkers should seek advice from the ranger station before venturing into the park, especially if they planned to tackle the 8km loop trail.

“Be aware that you need to bring at least three litres of water, you need to be reasonably fit,” he said. “There have been quite a few people who have died in the national park over the years, and the potential is heightened during summer.”

Mr Cable said the recent installation of mobile phone towers in the national park had greatly improved communications, but there was still no reception in the gorge. He said emergency services were expecting a busy summer.

“We’ve had one major incident each month for nearly the past 12 months, and I don’t think it’s finished either, because once the Skywalk goes in and the road is bitumenised, I’m sure betting we’ll be seeing more action.”

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