/ Modified jun 28, 2019 5:15 p.m.

Summer rescue preparations, rising temps & public health

Plus, hearing from Democratic Tucson mayoral candidate Randi Dorman.

The first full week of summer delivered triple-digit highs in Tucson. With that come familiar reminders about staying cool and hydrated. That may go without saying for many in Southern Arizonans, but it's a message worth repeating for first responders who handle dozens of heat-related calls this time of year.

So far this year, Tucson Fire has responded to more than 30 calls related to heat-exposure. Such calls for all of last year exceeded 190, with the most active months between June and August. Paramedic Pete Weinman told Lorraine Rivera everyone is susceptible to the effects of heat exposure given the region's climate.

"Pretty much everybody in Arizona is a little bit dehydrated to begin with just because there's no humidity in the air. You're breathing it out, you're sweating it out and even if your skin isn't wet you're still losing moisture," Weinman said. "Don't think it's not going to happen to you."

Beyond Tucson's city limits, the Pima County Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue Unit conducts about 200 calls each year. They mostly encounter hikers and hunters. Rescues happen year-round given the popularity of the county's many trails, but the summer heat adds additional challenges. Sgt. Steve Ferree, who supervises the search and rescue unit, offered Arizona 360 advice on steps hikers should take to prioritize their safety.

"If you are going to hike, I would recommend in the morning. Just be cognizant of your water level. Once you start getting to that halfway of your water you need to seriously consider turning around," Ferree said. "One thing we will generally tell people is once they get in that situation where they realize they need help, just stop, stay where you're at. Because it's very hard to look for a moving person."

Ferree also recommends people put their cellphones on airplane mode or carry an extra battery otherwise the battery will drain quickly as the phone attempts to search for service in remote areas.

Temperatures in the triple digits aren't enough to deter everyone from spending excess time outdoors. It came with dire consequences in June 2016 when four people died on a day with a high of 115 degrees. It included three hikers in the Catalina Mountains and a woman out for a walk on Tucson's Loop trail. Back then, Michele Manos served as a consultant for the Pima County Health Department and advised the county on ways it could protect the public from rising temperatures.

She remains an advocate on the issue. With Arizona 360, Manos discussed what steps people and local municipalities can take to keep communities safe in the heat.

Excess heat can affect the air we breathe by impacting the risk for wildfires and causing urban ozone levels to concentrate. It creates conditions that can be hazardous to our health. Arizona 360 learned more about the connection between air quality and public health from UA Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences Department head Eric Betterton. Betterton also serves as chairman of the Pima County Environmental Quality Advisory Council.

This week, President Trump announced his latest pick for press secretary. Stephanie Grisham's journey to the West Wing traces back to Arizona. She was spokeswoman for the Arizona House Republicans when she joined the Trump presidential campaign and eventually worked her way up to communications director for First Lady Melania Trump.

For insight into what she may bring to her newest role, Arizona 360 turned to Barrett Marson. Marson is a political consultant for the GOP based in Phoenix and crossed paths with Grisham frequently during her time at the Arizona House of Representatives.

"She is going to be absolutely tenacious. It's how she was here in Arizona. She's a fierce advocate and defender of the people she worked for," Marson said. He also described how her history with the Trump family from the early stages of the president's campaign make her stand apart from her predecessors.

"Unlike Sean Spicer and even Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump knows her well from a time when not many people were supportive of him."

Arizona 360 interviewed all four Tucson mayoral candidates who qualified for the ballot. Candidates include Democrats Randi Dorman, Steve Farley and Regina Romero on the primary ballot, one of whom will face independent Ed Ackerley in November's general election. This week, Lorraine Rivera sat down with Randi Dorman, a longtime developer in Tucson who is making her political debut with her run for mayor.

The United States will celebrate 243 years of independence this year. In honor of the holiday, we revisited our occasional commentary series Own Words and heard from newly sworn-in citizens about what makes this country special to them. They spoke to us shortly after taking their oath of allegiance at a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. District Court in downtown Tucson.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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