OHV recreation occurs all over the country on all sorts of terrains. Many lucky OHV recreationists will have the opportunity to experience riding on trails in heavily wooded areas, areas with serious exposure in mountainous areas or in open plains. Others yet will have the opportunity to ride on dunes or through the desert. Each type of area has its unique safety concerns – this article focuses on desert safety.
NOHVCC recently spoke with Brian Puckett who is a paramedic and leads search and rescue operations for the Bureau of Land Management’s El Centro Field Office in California, which manages the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. Brian leads a team of five permanent staff who are bolstered with seasonal help during the busy winter season. The team responds to 400 calls a year and deal with a vast range of injuries. Brian said, “Everything from splinter removal to serious traumatic injuries – we see it all.”
Given the nature of recreation in the area, the overwhelming majority of calls are OHV-related with the remainder related to hiking and other trail uses. “More than 90% of our calls are for incidents involving OHVs or OHVers at the campsite or engaged in other related activities.” Not all calls are injury related. “We get quite a few calls for lost or overdue parties.”