June 30, 2019 9:58 pm
Updated: July 1, 2019 5:16 am

Multiple calls keep B.C. search and rescue crews busy for Canada Day weekend

WATCH: Multiple rescues across Metro Vancouver this Canada Day long weekend were stretching the limits of exhausted search and rescue volunteers. Tanya Beja reports.


The Canada Day long weekend was a busy one for search and rescue crews along the South Coast, prompting new warnings to stay safe and prepared in the backcountry.

Lions Bay Search and Rescue was called to three incidents in 48 hours between Saturday and Sunday, stretching crews thin around the Sea to Sky area.

The most recent call involved a hiker who slid up to 300 metres down a hill off the Binkert Trail, causing serious damage to his knee that required a long-line rescue from North Shore Rescue.

WATCH: (Aired Feb. 26) Province announces funding for search and rescue teams

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“It was a very critical medical emergency,” said Martin Coldwell, search manager for Lions Bay Search and Rescue.

“We’re having more people take slides because they don’t see how steep some of these areas are, and it’s incredibly dangerous.”

The day before, a young student who scrambled up Brunswick Mountain also needed rescuing after finding his way onto a small ledge.

READ MORE: Record year for North Shore Rescue

“He had only seven per cent battery power [on his phone] and we had to do another long-line rescue for that one,” Coldwell said. “People don’t realize how hard it can be to find them if we don’t know where to start.”

That day also saw the rescue of a man who fell off his dirt bike near Squamish Friday night, prompting Lions Bay to assist crews from Squamish and North Shore Rescue.

The man was finally located close to noon and was rushed to hospital with serious injuries.

Lions Bay crews have been busy ever since then, with no signs of slowing down.

READ MORE: B.C. government announces $18.6M in funding for ground search and rescue crews

While they were bringing Sunday’s hiker back to safety, members were pulled away to yet another call.

Coldwell said with more people heading out to enjoy the weather for the long weekend, he’s finding those hikers are increasingly unprepared.

“Not everyone understands the mountain environment,” he said. “There are even simple things where out-of-town people not realizing if they get lost, they might never find their way out.”

Lions Bay crews weren’t the only ones kept busy Sunday.

WATCH: (Aired Dec. 28, 2018) Record year for North Shore Rescue

North Shore Rescue had to handle multiple calls, including a long-line rescue of a man who sustained a head injury after taking a tumble in Norvan Falls.

“We flew crews in, including an ER physician, so they did have decreased levels of consciousness, likely a fractured arm as well,” Scott Merriman with North Shore Rescue said.

Merriman said with their helicopters having to assist other search and rescue crews, North Shore Rescue is feeling the long weekend pinch.

“Very busy, for sure,” he said. “We’re still getting calls today, so we have to head right back out.”

Crews are reminding people to do their research before embarking on a hike in the backcountry, including how long the trail takes to complete and what to pack for the journey.

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