SAR stats on the way up. (Contributed)

B.C. search and rescue stats climbing up

Ridge Meadows helped two ill-equipped hikers make it out safely

More people are getting lost in the wilderness and are reaching out to search and rescue crews to save them, says the B.C. Search and Rescue Association.

The association’s statistics show the number of search and rescue incidents on air, land and water in B.C. jumped from just above 400 in 1991-92 – to more than four times that – 1,600 – in 2016-17.

One of the reasons for the increase is that B.C. is just too beautiful, says Sandra Riches, with AdventureSmart. People see pictures of spectacular scenery online and want to get to the same spot. But, “a lot of visitors don’t know what it took to get there.”

Easy access to the back country can also get people into trouble. People can fly into Vancouver International Airport and be into the mountains and trails within a few hours. But that easy access to the outdoors can lead to a false sense of security about the outdoors.

“We’ve noticed an increase in new Canadians that are subjects that have been rescued.” Her job is to target search and rescue or the AdventureSmart information to those different languages so everyone understands the risks.

“Targeting definitely visitors, or if it’s a just short visit, or if they’re moving here, we need to know where they’re wanting to play, because they’re actually coming here to enjoy the outdoors. That’s why they’re moving here and visiting.”

More winter activities are also drawing more people to the hills. As many as 2,000 people a day go to on to one trail on Mount Seymour snowshoeing, she added.

Search and rescue squads will be collecting data so that there’s more certainty about where the call increase is coming from. That will allow AdventureSmart, created by B.C. Search and Rescue, to target its information campaigns so people are aware of the hazards.

Population growth is another reason for the four-fold increase.

Riches noted that B.C. has more search and rescue calls per year than the rest of the Canada combined. “We have an active, healthy province.”

It’s difficult to say if there’s a correlation between the increased use of cellphones and greater numbers of calls to search and rescue crews.

Rick Laing, with Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue, said cellphones can spare some callouts because people are able to reach others and explain why they’re late.

On the other hand, it’s also easier to call if someone gets into trouble.

He doesn’t think people are making frivilous calls to search and rescue in the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows area but has heard of that in other areas.

“We’re sometimes our own worst enemy. We’ll go out at the drop of a hat.”

The latest stats are valid up to March 2017 but don’t record all body recoveries or incidents when search and rescue crews help with evacuations.

B.C. Search and Rescue has an #AdventureSmart prevention program to help reduce unnecessary and preventable ground SAR calls and has a message of #3Ts Train, Trip plan and Take the essentials. More information is at www.adventuresmart.ca.

Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue was called out Sept. 5 at 3 a.m. after two hikers didn’t show up in Golden Ears Provincial Park.

The two were lightly equipped and one was dehyrdrated and suffering leg cramps, likely a result of the heat wave at that time.

Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue hiked them down from Alder Flats to the team’s all-terrain vehicle.

SAR volunteers were back at work by 9 a.m. that day.

 

SUV helped two hikers out. (Contributed)

Just Posted

Mental health first aid course comes to Chilliwack

The two-day course will take place at the Coast Hotel on Nov. 1 and 2 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Mental fitness questioned of man charged in Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Peter Kampos told his lawyer ‘his dreams are being stolen and turned into drugs’ at Surrey Pre-trial

Jason Lum was the top vote-getter on Chilliwack council

New Chilliwack council will be sworn in at inaugural council meeting on Nov. 6

West Van Highlanders beat Sardis Falcons on last second field goal

The Falcons fell 17-14 on home field and will finish the BC High School football season on the road.

Okanagan Sun stop Valley Huskers in BCFC semi-final

The Huskers dramatic turnaround season ended on the road at the Apple Bowl in Kelowna.

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Trump vilifies caravan, says he’ll cut Central American aid

Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the Guatemala-Mexico border, about 5,000 Central American migrants resumed their advance toward the U.S. border Sunday in southern Mexico.

Federal carbon tax rebates will exceed the cost for most people affected

Officials say 70 per cent of people in those provinces will get back more than they end up paying out as fuel costs rise to incorporate the carbon tax.

Rotating strike in Toronto will have ‘significant impact,’ says Canada Post

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities.

Cancelling Saudi Arabia arms deal would cost $1 billion: Trudeau

Canada has added its voice to global calls for answers, with Trudeau telling the CBC in an interview today that the Saudi government’s explanation of what happened lacks credibility.

5 to start your day

Ultra low-cost flights to Iceland, Abbotsford mom stuck in Africa over adoption delay and more

Former B.C. sheriff caught in sex-related sting pleads guilty to lesser charge

Kevin Johnston will be sentenced on Nov. 6 for his role in communicating online with a person posing as a 14-year-old girl.

Oil spill response exercise happening in Vancouver Harbour

Staff will respond to a simulated 150K litre spill

WWE star Roman Reigns announces he has leukemia

Grappler formerly played in CFL

Most Read