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

Two new bridges to be built along Highway 16 between Port Clements, Tlell

Ministry of Transportation says $5.4-million project expected to be complete in fall 2020

‘Now Is the Time’ doc will start streaming on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Film featuring Haida carver Robert Davidson will launch June 21 for free on NFB website

Haida Gwaii couple frustrated after Air Canada cancels flight, denies compensation

Mike Racz says another passenger received $1,000 while he was only offered e-coupon and promo code

Haida Gwaii teachers heading back to empty classrooms on June 1

SD50 working with CHN following May 21 request to keep school closed until state of emergency lifted

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

VIDEO: Green Coast offers free kayaking to Haida Gwaii residents

First “pop-up paddle” held Monday, May 25; free community paddles expected to continue weekly

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Most Read