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

WATCH: Group of 150 gather for Fraser Valley Marches for Women in Chilliwack

Waving signs, women make their way down Young Road as part of second annual march in Chilliwack

VIDEO: Harrison sailor looking for competitors to race model boats

Bernhard Van Velze is hoping to create a club for model sailboats at Harrison Lake

Chilliwack prolific offender wanted yet again

B.C.-wide warrant issued for David Allen Geoghegan

One man, two women charged with stolen pickup downtown Chilliwack

None of the three have criminal history in B.C.

COLUMN: Should elected officials block constituents and reporters on social media?

Ottawa mayor was sued for doing that but a Chilliwack school trustee didn’t get that message

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Most Read