The BC Search and Rescue Association is urging the public to take extreme caution if going into the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here search and rescue members practice ice rescue training in the Cariboo weeks before the virus showed up in B.C. (Photo submitted)

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

If heading into the outdoors, B.C. residents are being urged to be extra cautious due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now is not the time to bag that peak you’ve been looking at for the last two years,” said BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) senior manager Dwight Yochim. “Wait until this is over and try that later.”

Call volumes across the province are not going down, despite provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s direction for people to stay home.

“The good news is it hasn’t gone up, but the bad news it hasn’t gone down,” Yochim told Black Press Media.

BCSARA is trying to get the message out to be careful, he added.

“We know going outside is good for your mental health, but stay around your municipality, stay close to home and local trails.”

Even if people are going on local trails, they should let someone know when they are leaving and when they have returned.

“If you twist an ankle, fair enough, but it’s not worth trying to push your limits,” he said.

When a SAR unit gets a call-out, then 20 or 30 people on a team who have been self-isolating now come together.

Read more: Central Cariboo Search and Rescue implements adaptive measures for COVID-19 response

“They still try to maintain their two metre distance, even on a search. When they approach the subject, they ask if they have a fever or a cough or if they’ve been exposed to someone who has.”

If they answer ‘yes’ then only a couple of team members will go in, put on gloves and special masks, and eye protection to interact with the subject.

Only a few members will check the subject over and everyone else on the team will stay away, he added.

“If we are lucky we can get them out fairly easily, but if we have to do a stretcher carry-out then we now have 12 people involved. Or if we put them into a helicopter, now we have to worry about the pilot and make sure the pilot is properly protected,” Yochim said.

It raises the risk for everyone if a subject is found to be COVID-19 positive, he said, noting it is not worth it right now.

There are 79 teams and 2,500 search and rescue volunteers in B.C. taking extra precautions as the pandemic persists.

“We’d rather the public take extra precautions as well,” Yochim said. “If we run out of personal protection equipment it’s going to delay searches because we will have to call in mutual aid. I’m sure the subject doesn’t want that or the public.”

Due to to pandemic, the federal and provincial governments have already closed access to many outdoor recreation trails and parks.

Read more: Parks Canada to close access to trails

Read more: Williams Lake ski trail, Chilcotin rec site among dozens in B.C. closed due to COVID-19

A current list of closures can be found on the Current Site Closures page of the RSTBC Website.



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Pandemic spurs egg-citement for backyard chickens in Greater Victoria

Fowl surge in popularity during COVID-19 pandemic

Saanich looks at allowing alcohol in parks after North Vancouver gives the green light

Bylaw allowing liquor in parks ‘a very positive idea,’ mayor says

Pandemic profiles: Passion at the heart of community businesses

Businesses rely on community support to stay open

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

Organizer, Victoria councillor, VicPD talk about upcoming rally for Black lives

‘It’s a simple ask’: Peace rally for Black lives organizer asks people to listen

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Most Read