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

Saanich residents sound alarm after second owl dies of rat poison

Great Horned Owl found in Kings Park killed by three rodenticides

Point-guard lobs no-look, three-pointer for Oak Bay High video

Trick-shot only took three times, says Oak Bay teen

Cancelled cruise ships costs Victoria more than $130 million

Transport Canada bans ships until end of October in response to COVID-19

Phase-by-phase look at how Greater Victoria Public Libraries will reopen

GVPL to quarantine returned material for a minimum of 72 hours before lending again

Langford pitches Westhills as Canadian Premier League soccer hub

Langford could host all eight teams for August matches

VIDEO: Victoria dental staff dance to *NSYNC to promote reopening

Urban Smiles staff ‘want you back’ after closure in response to pandemic

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘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

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Most Read