Video shows dramatic rescue of couple near Joshua Tree as temperatures are set to soar

Two hikers were rescued by Riverside County Sheriff officials in the Painted Canyon area of the county, near Joshua Tree on June 9, 2024.
Two hikers were rescued in the Painted Canyon area near Joshua Tree on June 9, 2024. (Riverside County Sheriff's Department)

A couple hiking near Joshua Tree was rescued from a rugged trail over the weekend, prompting warnings from officials about participating in outdoor activities in the stifling heat.

The dramatic helicopter rescue — captured on video by Riverside County sheriff’s officials — came Sunday evening after the couple called 911 requesting medical aid on the Ladder Canyon Trail in Mecca, according to the Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff's officials found the pair lying huddled on the ground, the man apparently shielding the woman from the elements with his body and clothes. Rescue crews airlifted them out of the area separately and took them to be treated at a hospital.

The man had reported that his girlfriend was dehydrated, and her condition was described as "severe," a rescuer said in an Instagram post chronicling the rescue. But no further details were provided on the couple's injuries.

Temperatures in the inland desert regions are expected to reach dangerous, triple-digit levels over the weekend.

Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley and the surrounding areas will reach highs of 103 to 108, said Elizabeth Adams, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. It’ll probably be even hotter in the Coachella Valley, including Palm Springs and Indio, where highs are projected to hit 110 to 114. Friday and Saturday will be the hottest days of the week, she said.

Temperatures should fall several degrees by Sunday.

A view from above of a person in a red helmet being hoisted toward a helicopter.
Rescuers hoist a hiker into a helicopter near Joshua Tree on June 9, 2024. (Riverside County Sheriff's Department)

“This is really one of the first heat events of the season, so people are not quite acclimated to this level of heat just yet,” Adams said. “So you might experience negative side effects to the heat faster than you probably would” later, in the summer.

She said those planning outdoor activities or to work in the extreme heat should do so early in the day or later in the evening to avoid the hottest hours and should remain hydrated, drinking more water than usual. She encouraged people to wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and sunscreen.

Read more: How much worse will extreme heat get by 2050? New report outlines worrisome future

"Make sure you're checking in on yourself and people close to you, doing checks of your body, realizing how the heat is actually affecting you before it's too late," Adams said.

Signs of heat exhaustion may include cool, pale skin, headaches, dizziness, weakness and nausea, weather officials said. They added that pets should be kept indoors.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.