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Social Media Linked To Record Year For Sheriff's Rescue Teams

LOS ANGELES ( — Rescue teams in Los Angeles County performed a record number of rescues in 2014, a trend many credit to the rise of social media, authorities announced Tuesday.

KNX 1070's Claudia Peschiutta reports Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Volunteer Search and Rescue teams responded to nearly 600 missions last year, up from just over 490 rescues in 2013, an increase of nearly 20 percent, according to officials.

With rescues involving everything from missing hikers, motorcycle crashes over the sides of highways, cliff rescues and even dog rescues, search and rescue teams even assisted the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History with the "rescue" of a estimated 14-million-year-old fossil.

The Sheriff's Department program consists of eight teams throughout Los Angeles County with 170 reserve deputies and civilian volunteers who donate their time performing rescues, according to Assistant Director Mike Leum, who heads the volunteer teams.

Leum pointed to the growing use of social media in news-gathering and the posting of extreme videos that show hikers performing high-risk outdoor adventures as factors in the number of rescues performed.

"Because there have been an ever-increasing number of videos posted, people doing extreme activities up in the forest ... creates quite a bit of buzz," Leum said. "People go up there looking for that same experience, and unfortunately, a lot of times end up getting themselves in trouble."

In addition to county operations, highly skilled rescue team members are also requested to assist other counties throughout the state from the desert to the high Sierras, Leum said.

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