Adventure Smart BC is asking all British Columbians to explore within their own community, instead of venturing to other regions, as well as create space for users on trails in order to practise physical distancing and wear personal protective equipment – such as masks – when necessary. (BC SAR photo)

B.C. sees spike in search and rescue calls ahead of COVID-19 restrictions easing

Search and rescue groups, made up of volunteers, risk contracting COVID-19 when they rescue strangers

The province’s top doctor is constantly urging British Columbians to “be kind, be calm and be safe,” but one safety organization is also asking outdoor enthusiasts to “be adventure smart.”

According to BC AdventureSmart, the province recorded a 35 per cent spike in search and rescue incidents in the first week of May, compared to the same time last year.

The ongoing pandemic is bringing an extra layer of concern for search and rescue groups across the province, made up of volunteers who put themselves at risk during each call they attend.

As the weather gets warmer and COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, Adventure Smart BC is urging that those who venture into nature do so while prepared, to avoid the need for rescue teams to get involved.

“Weekends with warmer weather, sunny skies and time to play outside are all about hiking, cycling, paddling, trail running and mountain biking, and incidentally mishaps occur that can be prevented,” the group said in a news release.

ALSO READ: Here’s a phase-by-phase look at how B.C. hopes to re-open parts of society

Adventure Smart BC is asking all British Columbians to explore within their own community, instead of venturing to other regions, as well as create space for users on trails in order to practise physical distancing and wear personal protective equipment – such as masks – when necessary.

In B.C., there are 79 ground search and rescue groups across the province with 2,500 volunteers.

Since social distancing protocols were implemented by provincial health officials, they have all been heeding the advice, the BC Search and Rescue Association said in statement in April.

Groups have halted training to avoid the risk of spreading COVID-19 and are conducting online training and meetings to ensure they are ready should they receive a call for assistance. But the association’s senior manager, Dwight Yochim, said that self-imposed isolation is lost when these volunteers answer the call for help and 20 to 30 members come together to assist in the rescue of someone they do not know.

“Those individuals put on personal protective equipment, they mask the subject and when the task is over, they have to disinfect their equipment,” Yochim said at the time. “Every step of the way they have been placed at risk of exposure to COVID-19 and now so have their families.”

Some provincial parks are set to reopen on May 14, ahead of Victoria Day long weekend.

“Let’s enjoy that, but let’s stay close to home,” Premier John Horgan said during an announcement on May 6.

“This is not the time for a road trip to another community for a hike or a holiday. If you have a provincial park in your area, by all means, visit it. Do not travel great distances. We need to stay close to home. That is a key part of our recovery.”

Meanwhile, overnight camping is expected to reopen on June 1, with the Discovery Camping portal opening reservations on May 25.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusOutdoors

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

Just Posted

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

One of the unsung heroes that make Clearwater tick

“She is a networker and she knows how to build a great team.”

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Cariboo, North Thompson region

Prince George, Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House all under watch

Community Foundation wants charities to apply for emergency funding

The $350 million emergency funding was created to help vulnerable populations during COVID-19

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Large rogue floating ‘island’ corralled by Lac la Hache residents

At least 60 feet wide, this large mass of plants is free-floating on the lake

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

Most Read