BC Search and Rescue Association president Chris Kelly says 79 groups that respond to calls have been pushed to the limit during the pandemic. (Black Press Media files)
The Vernon Search and Rescue’s heli-winch team was called to assist in the rescue of two Shuswap backcountry sledders Friday, April 2, 2021. (VSAR photo)

BC Search and Rescue Association president Chris Kelly says 79 groups that respond to calls have been pushed to the limit during the pandemic. (Black Press Media files) The Vernon Search and Rescue’s heli-winch team was called to assist in the rescue of two Shuswap backcountry sledders Friday, April 2, 2021. (VSAR photo)

Calls to search and rescue groups surge in B.C. as COVID-19 pushes people outdoors

Groups have been deployed 1,959 times since last April, 10 people have died in avalanches

British Columbia’s public safety minister is urging backcountry enthusiasts to take safety precautions before heading out after a record number of calls to ground search and rescue groups.

Mike Farnworth says volunteer personnel jump into action in dangerous circumstances and inclement weather to help those in trouble, adding their job has become harder over the past year as more people are exploring the outdoors due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Public Safety Ministry and Emergency Management BC say in a joint release that the search and rescue groups have been deployed 1,959 times since last April and 10 people have died in avalanches.

They say search and rescue crews attended an average of about 1,500 callouts in previous years, more than the rest of Canada combined.

BC Search and Rescue Association president Chris Kelly says 79 groups that respond to calls have been pushed to the limit during the pandemic.

He says COVID-19 has made risky work even more dangerous and everyone venturing into the backcountry should do their part to plan ahead.

“Make sure you’re prepared for where you’re going. Have a plan, have the right gear, know how to use it and take the training,” he said.

Jennifer Rice, the parliamentary secretary for Emergency Preparedness, says even those taking what they think is a short trip should let someone know where they’re going and learn about the terrain and weather beforehand. She also suggests bringing supplies for an unexpected overnight stay.

The province is advising anyone who needs help to call for it immediately and to learn from the resources available on the Avalanche Canada website.

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

Just Posted

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including South Surrey’s Pacific Highway should ‘not be left behind’

Cannabis plants visible under bright lights inside a large facility at Shxwha:y Village on July 6, 2018. The reserve was home to the licensed producer for Indigenous Bloom, which opened up a dispensary on the Kwaw-Kwaw-Apilt reserve. On April 12, 2021, Shxwha:y announced Health Canada approval for a licensed production facility at the village. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack’s Shxwha:y First Nation approved for cannabis cultivation and processing facility

It will be the first majority-owned Indigenous on-reserve licensed facility in Western Canada

The Fraser Valley Bandits chose Brandon University’s Anthony Tsegakele in the first round of the 2021 CEBL Draft. (Submitted)
Fraser Valley Bandits reveal 2021 CEBL Draft choices

Abbotsford-based club selects Quebec’s Anthony Tsegakele in first round

Bat Packs are the newest addition to the FVRL Playground, and have everything you need to learn more about bats, and track them in your neighbourhood. (FVRL image)
Bat Packs at Fraser Valley libraries come with echometer to track bats

Packs are the newest part of the FVRL Playground inventory

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
WATCH: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

(Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

MP Todd Doherty took to Facebook after his family recently received threats. (Todd Doherty, MP Facebook photo)
‘I don’t run and I don’t hide’: Cariboo MP says RCMP probing threats made against family

Todd Doherty has also notified House of Commons Protective Services

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

An unidentified B.C. man said, in a human rights complaint, that he was refused a contract job after refusing to wear a mask when asked to by an on-site manager. (Unsplash)
Religious B.C. man lodges human rights complaint after fired for refusing to wear a mask

Worker’s claim that ‘to cover up our face infringes on our God-given ability to breathe’ dismissed by B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Most Read