GEMA/HS Dispatch Sept 2018 - Page 9

Getting Lost in the Woods A search and rescue responder talks outdoor safety Story by: Julia Regeski Georgia is known for its outdoor beauty. From its expansive natural coastline to the rolling peaks in the north, much of this land is made available for use by the general public. In fact, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources reports that approximately 1.85 million acres of federal land and 565,000 acres of state property are open for use by those seeking to soak up the state’s outdoor adventures. In addition, the world-famous Appalachian Trail begins in in the North Georgia Mountains, and rambles on for 79 miles before continuing up through Tennessee. “Georgia is a very unique state,” said Don Courtesy of Georgia Deptartment of Natural Resources Photo by Haley Hyatt Strength, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency field coordinator for the northeast area of the state. “You can go from the city of Atlanta, to a totally different world in le ss than an hour. And what happens when people come up to enjoy the beautiful nature – which I don’t blame them, they should – is they’re just not prepared for this type of environment.” Those venturing outdoors are often unprepared not only for the dangers of the wild such as cliffs, rushing rivers, wildlife, confusing terrain, and weather, Strength said, but also unexpected health challenges that go along with DISPATCH | 9 Courtesy of Ga. Dept. of Natural Resources Photo by Haley Hyatt