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

BREAKING: Vehicle fire on Highway 1 between Chilliwack and Abbotsford

One westbound lane blocked after 11:30 a.m. on Friday leading to traffic delays

Toxic smell returns to Abbotsford elementary school raising health concerns for students, teachers and parents

King Traditional Elementary suffers daily from neighbouring waste-storage facility’s stench

UFV Town and Gown dinner raises more than $245,000

Of the total raised, $100,000 will go toward a new Peace and Reconciliation Centre

Does the season make you blue? It could be SAD

Seasonal affective disorder can result in mood and health changes

UPDATED: Brother of Chilliwack homicide victim killed in Surrey

Andrew Baldwin killed on Nov. 11, three weeks after Keith Baldwin shot in downtown Chilliwack

VIDEO: Disney Plus adds disclaimer about racist stereotypes

Disney’s disclaimer is a good way to begin discussion about the larger issue of racism

New case of vaping-related illness in Quebec brings national total to 8

Quebec health minister considering tightening the rules around vaping products

Greens to vote against Liberal throne speech unless carbon targets toughened: May

Green leader Elizabeth May and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Friday, discussing common ground

Falling tree crushes front of SUV carrying Surrey woman, granddaughters

Linda Simpson wants city to assess safety of roadside trees, following harrowing experience

First Nations ‘optimistic’ about road upgrades after Horgan visits site of fatal bus crash

Premier travelled Bamfield Main road, where bus flipped last September and two students were killed

Delays seen on some Metro Vancouver bus routes as transit strike ramps up

According to TransLink, routes in downtown Vancouver are bearing the brunt of the delays

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

B.C. man facing 18 charges after hidden camera found in Kelowna winery washroom

The camera was found at Summerhill Winery on Aug. 23

Most Read