Couple airlifted from desert near Joshua Tree after running out of water

Two people were airlifted from the desert near Joshua Tree National Park last week, after a man called 911, saying that they had run out of water, and the rescue was captured on video. 

The rescue happened on June 9. According to an Instagram post from the Riverside County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit, a man called 911 from Painted Canyon, just north of the Salton Sea, to say that his girlfriend was dehydrated and weak.

The RSO sent a team out to find them. Video from the EMT sent down to retrieve the pair found them huddled on the ground next to a bush, with the man laying over his girlfriend, protecting her from the sun. Crews lifted the two into the helicopter.

The department said that "because of her severe condition, an aeromedical helicopter was dispatched to Rescue 9's landing zone to fly the patient to a hospital."

The condition of the man wasn't immediately clear.

The Sheriff's Office used the rescue as an opportunity to remind people of the dangers of hiking in the desert.

"People don’t pack enough water," said Cpl. Pilot Andy Rasmussen from the Aviation team. "They don’t bring enough supplies with them.  They end up getting 5 or 6 miles into a hike and can’t get back."

Heat advisories and excessive heat warnings were issued Saturday in parts of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

"It’s in the triple digits now," said Cpl. Rasmussen. "Yesterday, I believe we got to about 112 degrees. It’s going to be that way from here on out in the summer."

Los Angeles County’s aviation unit has also rescued several hikers by helicopter in recent weeks. Cpl. Rasmussen said they’ll sometimes respond to multiple calls per day in the summer months.

"If you’re out hiking, and you start to feel thirst, you start to feel tired, in probably 10 minutes you can be in a bad situation," said Cpl. Rasmussen.

Officials urge hikers to pack extra water and prepare for the unexpected these summer months. Carry a personal locator beacon in areas with spotty cell service, let people know where you’re hiking, and don’t hike alone if possible.

Reports from the National Weather Service on June 9 saw temperatures in the area where the couple was found hitting highs between 100 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The deserts in California are some of the hottest places in the U.S. and the world. In fact, according to the National Park Service, Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park holds the world record for highest air temperature ever recorded, hitting 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913.