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Search & Rescue: Get outside, but avoid Red River Gorge for now

In the past week, teams have already responded to five calls for lost or injured hikers. Of those five rescues, all but one were for people from out of town. (Photo: WKYT/Adam Burniston)
In the past week, teams have already responded to five calls for lost or injured hikers. Of those five rescues, all but one were for people from out of town. (Photo: WKYT/Adam Burniston)(WKYT)
Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 3:12 PM EDT
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Governor Beshear is encouraging people to spend time outside away from others if they can.

Rescue squads in Powell and Wolfe counties, however, are asking people to avoid Red River Gorge for now.

While the governor has yet to close the Red River Gorge, rescue team officials are instead encouraging people to get outdoors closer to home and avoid the gorge to help prevent any further spread of COVID-19.

According to John May, the director of the Wolfe County Search & Rescue Team, in the past week teams have already responded to five calls for lost or injured hikers.

Of those five rescues, all but one were for people from out of town.

With warmer and drier weather returning for a short while, May expects the gorge to become even more crowded with people, which could not only help spread COVID-19 but also put his team and the local community at risk of the virus.

While teams expect to be dispatched more over the next few days, May says they're trying to do what they can to stay protected.

"When a call comes in, I'll evaluate the situation and instead of sending 10 to 12 people out for someone that's lost, we'll send four,” says May. “So, we're trying to minimize the number of people we put in harm's way.

May says while his team has acquired a limited amount of face masks, they still need more. They’re also hoping to stock up on hand sanitizer, so they can stay better protected.

To help further prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Natural Bridge Skylift has also been closed at this time.

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