SUV helped two hikers out. (Contributed)

B.C. search and rescue stats climbing up

New Canadians are the most likely to get lost

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.

 

SAR stats on the way up. (Contributed)

Just Posted

Support needed for Vernon ALS Walk

Fundraiser on June 9 could be cancelled without more volunteers

Police investigating early evening robbery in Vernon

Suspect allegedly produced a knife and bound the employee’s hands and feet with packing tape

Vernon task force to address climate change

Local impact guidance sought by Vernon council

City unveils plan for new Landing park

Park to be located along several properties on Lakeshore Road

Registration opens for Okanagan Singer-Songwriter competition

Lake Country - The seventh annual competition auditions are held around the Okanagan

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Castlegar homicide victim identified

The victim was 38-year-old Jordan Workman of Castlegar, B.C.

B.C. Liberals get one last prime-time pitch

Leadership campaign to be decided in Feb. 3 vote

Team chaplain reflects on time with Silverbacks

Kenny Toews served as a mentor and spiritual leader to the team for six seasons

Drawings connect autistic student with the world

Leifen Mitchell-Banks creates colourful cartoon characters at Salmon Arm Secondary.

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

10 Safeways in Lower Mainland to close, union says

Locations in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam, Richmond and Mission slated to shut

Victims restrained, sex toys and cash stolen from B.C. adult store

Armed suspects sought in adult store robbery

‘Miraculous that nobody was killed’

Tanker full of aviation fuel involved in Highway 3 crash

Most Read