Sharjah Police has launched a mountain rescue team to come to the aid of hikers.
The task force comprises 20 officers dedicated to providing swift assistance in a range of hiking incidents, from missing person reports to helping those stranded due to fatigue.
Police said the unit, which is now operational, will be a crucial resource as the return of cooler weather prompts more people to explore mountainous areas in the eastern region of Sharjah.
“The launch followed several meetings with relevant departments so as to identify all forms of incidents that happen during mountain hiking,” said Col Ali Al Kai Al Hamoudi, director of the Eastern Region Police Department at Sharjah Police.
He said hiking incidents can be reported by calling the emergency 999 number or via WhatsApp, on 092370000.
Officers had extensive training before the unit became active.
“The unit will bring more support to the paramedics and rescuers at Sharjah Police who have always responded to such reports with professionalism,” said Col Al Hamoudi.
Be prepared before setting out
He said the force has conducted several awareness campaigns to help people stay safe when out hiking.
“These have been posted on the force’s different media channels and on the radio during our My Country is Safe show,” he said.
“No matter how experienced you are or where you’re going, unexpected incidents can and do happen.”
He urged hikers to be well prepared and to follow set routes.
“The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to have a good time and stay safe,” he said.
He called on the public to go on trips in a group to remove the risk of someone being stranded on their own.
“We advise that the group inform the police’s operations room so that we ensure they get to their destination safely.”
The senior officer urged hikers to pack essentials like water, snacks and a first aid kit and to make sure they stay on trail to avoid losing mobile and internet connections.
Spate of winter accidents
Emergency services regularly come to the aid of hikers, particularly during the winter period.
In March, Sharjah Police rescued an Italian tourist after he fell on a mountain, broke his arm and lost consciousness.
The man, aged 42, was hiking with two of his friends on Jebel Mleiha when the incident occurred.
He fell from a high point on the hill and got stuck on a ridge.