The BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) extended their gratitude to the public after seeing a 50 per cent reduction in the average number of search and rescue calls, but adds they’d like to see people do better, and urge extra caution as we approach the Easter long weekend — historically one of their busiest.
“The average number of search and rescue calls in British Columbia in April is 121 and to see a 50% reduction over last year in the first week is an excellent trend,” said BCSARA president Chris Kelly. “But we can do better. We are heading into our busy season where, historically, calls begin to increase. I’d like to see one week where we have no calls in the province, something that has not happened as long as I can remember.”
BC’s network of 79 ground search and rescue groups comprised of 2500 trained, unpaid professionals are all staying home in accordance with the mandates of the provincial health authority.
These groups have ceased training procedures in order to decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19. They are currently conducting online training sessions and meeting in order to make sure they are ready in the event that they do receive a call for assistance.
That self-imposed isolation disappears when they are required to answer a call for aid, as 20 to 30 members come together to assist in someone’s rescue.
“When called out, these search and rescue personnel try to maintain a distance of two meters from each other,” said Dwight Yochim, senior manager for BCSARA. “They also have protocols in place to limit the number of members who interact with the lost or injured person. Those individuals put on personal protective equipment, they mask the subject and when the task is over, they have to disinfect their equipment. Every step of the way they have been placed at risk of exposure to COVID-19 and now so have their families.”
BCSARA once again reminds people that now is not the time to venture into the wilderness.
“It would be amazing to see a week where GSAR personal were able stay at home because there were no calls,” said Yochim.