You can donate to the "Friends of the Smokies" to help fund the park's mission.
With over 522,000 acres of rugged wilderness, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. There are endless opportunities for fishing and hiking that allow people to really get out into the wild. Unfortunately, not all outings go as planned.
"We have over a hundred incidents a year that go on, and summertime and the fall are typically our busiest seasons," said Ranger Liz Hall.
Hall is the Smokies’ first emergency manager. With over 850 miles of trails in the park, she has her work cut out for her.
"What happens is that they dispatch the rangers in the park, and somebody will come hiking up and assess what's going on and what our necessary resources are. And we’ll send a litter team up or call a helicopter or whatever the needs may be to help you out," she said.
VIEWER PHOTOS: Beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains
The money that Friends of the Smokies has been able to raise for rescue vehicles and command trailers allows Hall and her team to act quickly and efficiently, no matter where in the park visitors find themselves in trouble.
"We have three different rescue vehicles throughout the park. Those vehicles have litters on them. They have other technical rescue equipment, as well. Ropes, things like that, to help people who have fallen down the slope. We also have brand new trailers. And these trailers are used as instant command posts, and they can be set up anywhere throughout the park to help us run a larger operation, like a missing person. So we can roll these trailers out and set up a planning process to help find those missing people."
Another important aspect of the Search and Rescue mission is educating visitors, so they know what to expect and don't need to be rescued in the first place.
"Many people don't realize how steep a trail is or how arduous that hike is actually going to be for them. We ask people to “know before you go.” Make sure you have proper footwear, make sure that you have water with you, a first aid kit, and the other 10 essentials that you can look up online, as well," she said. "Having those with you, it's hopefully going to help lay the groundwork for you to have a good and fun hike in the Smokies."