BC Search and Rescue calls fall to pre-pandemic levels, but still trending up

Click to play video: 'Tips for staying safe during shoulder season in the mountains'
Tips for staying safe during shoulder season in the mountains
WATCH: When spring hits the city, it's still winter in the mountains. While you can find a good time in the mountains year-round, it pays to be prepared. Our Paul Haysom took a walk in the woods with North Shore Rescue to learn the do's and don'ts of shoulder season – Mar 10, 2023

Calls for rescues in B.C. were down in 2022 with around 600 fewer requests for help, but looking at the more extensive picture — calls are still trending up on a yearly average.

BC Search and Rescue said its volunteer service received around 1,500 calls in 2022, down from the 2,100 calls the previous year.

The SAR team said there was a significant spike during the first year of the pandemic, with levels now dropping to where they were before.

In 2020, around 1,700 calls were made, which then ballooned by approximately 400 calls during the pandemic.

Although calls for rescue were down in 2022 from the record high in 2021, SAR officials said statistics show that calls are still rising over a nearly 20-year period.

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In 2003, there were just under 1,000 calls for help. BC SAR statistics show that by 2046, the province could have around 3,000 incidents per year.

“The public, including hikers, backcountry skiers, snowshoers, mountain bikers, climbers and snowmobilers, can support B.C.’s search and rescue groups by taking preparedness seriously and we thank those who have already done so,” BC SAR’s Nancy Argyle wrote in a release.

“Enthusiasts play an important role in keeping the SAR call volume at a manageable level, which benefits everyone involved including our 3,400 search and rescue volunteers.”

BC SAR encourages everyone that enjoys the outdoors to plan ahead, let others know of the trip, and carry essential safety gear and two reliable communication devices.

A good example of not following those procedures: two tourists got lost overnight on the North Shore in late February, leading to a nearly deadly situation.

The tourists, who were visiting from Mexico and Columbia, spent the entire night in freezing temperatures after trying to hike the Norvan Falls trail in North Vancouver.

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BC SAR said they were not prepared and got caught in heavy snowfall in the afternoon, leading to them being lost for nearly 24 hours.

A group of well-prepared hikers heard their cries for help the next day around noon and were able to help them get down the trail.

“Check the weather, check the route, check supplies,” said Don Jardine, a North Shore Rescue team member.

“It could have turned out a whole lot worse for them if the hikers didn’t hear them.”

For more information regarding wise outdoor practices, BC SAR has an information page online.

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