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B.C. search-and-rescue crews see spike in calls, face new dangers amid COVID-19

Click to play video 'Search and rescue warns against taking chances during times of COVID-19' Search and rescue warns against taking chances during times of COVID-19
Search and rescue warns against taking chances during times of COVID-19 – May 8, 2020

B.C. search-and-rescue volunteers say they are experiencing a spike in calls while also grappling with increased risk due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The B.C. Search and Rescue Association says volunteers responded to 23 calls last week, an increase of 35 per cent over the same period last year.

Click to play video 'North Shore Rescue encourages people not to take risks outdoors' North Shore Rescue encourages people not to take risks outdoors
North Shore Rescue encourages people not to take risks outdoors – May 8, 2020

The association warns that as the province works to reopen recreation sites, now is not the time for hikers to take risks as crews have to worry about not only the terrain, but also the dangers of COVID-19.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus — Thinking of a hike this weekend? B.C. search-and-rescue crews say you’re putting them at risk

North Shore Rescue was called to Mosquito Creek in North Vancouver on Thursday after two men were unable to make their way out of a ravine.

Rescuers had to don personal protective equipment before pulling them up.

Click to play video 'Search and rescue teams issue Easter long weekend warning' Search and rescue teams issue Easter long weekend warning
Search and rescue teams issue Easter long weekend warning – Apr 9, 2020

“Six months ago, we would rush in, equipment was not required, we could touch the subjects, no problem at all,” Peter Haigh of North Shore Rescue said.

“Today it could be a death sentence if we touch them. So we can’t take enough precautions with volunteers who have families and work to do and so on. We just can’t take the risk.”

The BCSARA urges the public to heed the advice of provincial health officials and stay close to home, practice physical distancing and keep social circles small.

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