The BC Search and Rescue Association is urging the public to take extreme caution if going into the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here search and rescue members practice ice rescue training in the Cariboo weeks before the virus showed up in B.C. (Photo submitted)

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

If heading into the outdoors, B.C. residents are being urged to be extra cautious due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now is not the time to bag that peak you’ve been looking at for the last two years,” said BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) senior manager Dwight Yochim. “Wait until this is over and try that later.”

Call volumes across the province are not going down, despite provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s direction for people to stay home.

“The good news is it hasn’t gone up, but the bad news it hasn’t gone down,” Yochim told Black Press Media.

BCSARA is trying to get the message out to be careful, he added.

“We know going outside is good for your mental health, but stay around your municipality, stay close to home and local trails.”

Even if people are going on local trails, they should let someone know when they are leaving and when they have returned.

“If you twist an ankle, fair enough, but it’s not worth trying to push your limits,” he said.

When a SAR unit gets a call-out, then 20 or 30 people on a team who have been self-isolating now come together.

Read more: Central Cariboo Search and Rescue implements adaptive measures for COVID-19 response

“They still try to maintain their two metre distance, even on a search. When they approach the subject, they ask if they have a fever or a cough or if they’ve been exposed to someone who has.”

If they answer ‘yes’ then only a couple of team members will go in, put on gloves and special masks, and eye protection to interact with the subject.

Only a few members will check the subject over and everyone else on the team will stay away, he added.

“If we are lucky we can get them out fairly easily, but if we have to do a stretcher carry-out then we now have 12 people involved. Or if we put them into a helicopter, now we have to worry about the pilot and make sure the pilot is properly protected,” Yochim said.

It raises the risk for everyone if a subject is found to be COVID-19 positive, he said, noting it is not worth it right now.

There are 79 teams and 2,500 search and rescue volunteers in B.C. taking extra precautions as the pandemic persists.

“We’d rather the public take extra precautions as well,” Yochim said. “If we run out of personal protection equipment it’s going to delay searches because we will have to call in mutual aid. I’m sure the subject doesn’t want that or the public.”

Due to to pandemic, the federal and provincial governments have already closed access to many outdoor recreation trails and parks.

Read more: Parks Canada to close access to trails

Read more: Williams Lake ski trail, Chilcotin rec site among dozens in B.C. closed due to COVID-19

A current list of closures can be found on the Current Site Closures page of the RSTBC Website.



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Neighbour’s quick actions save dogs and home in Chilliwack townhouse fire

Neighbour heard fire alarm and called 911 and rescued dogs from unit on fire

60 middle school students in one Abbotsford classroom? It’s true, stunned parent is told

Parent says she was in disbelief when her son told her he was in a class with 60 other kids

No confirmed candidates in either Chilliwack riding for snap election

Both ridings went to BC Liberals in 2017 but no candidates announced on day election is called

COVID-19 testing lineup wraps around block in Chilliwack

Testing lineup includes seniors, children and their parents as demand seems to surge

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

Former worker at Surrey brewery claims he was bullied on the job

Human rights complaint to be heard against Surrey’s Central City Brewers and Distillers Ltd.

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mission poker player missing in Nevada is found alive and safe

Brad Booth went missing in July 13, found in mid September

Most Read