B.C. search and rescue calls down from pandemic high: BCSARA

Rescue calls in British Columbia have dropped by about 30 percent from 2021 to 2022, according to recent data from the BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA).

This comes after the association says there was an increase in calls during the height of the pandemic in 2021.

Stan Sovdat, a search manager with the North Shore Rescue, says he has been noticing a similar trend. He says that when the weather is warm, more people tend to go outside.

“Since the summer we’ve been in a bit of a slowing trend and I think, largely, it has to do with the weather…We had a pretty good snowpack up until about January, and then the weather got warmer [and it started] to rain up there [so] the snowpack started to disappear,” he said.

“If the snowpack is quite skiable out of bounds, our call volume tends to go up.”

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He says in 2021, North Shore Rescue saw a big increase in requests for help.

“We exploded with calls, I think we had a record-setting year. And then last year, I believe there was slightly less, and then we’re sort of back to normal,” he said.

Although the call volume has dipped down compared to recent years, the BCSARA says that the overall number of search and rescue calls is still on the rise.

“Due to its mountainous terrain and unique coastal weather conditions, British Columbia has always received the most search and rescue calls in all of Canada,” the BCSARA says.

Sovdat adds that he is also expecting calls to increase as we move into the warmer months.

“The public, including hikers, backcountry skiers, snowshoers, mountain bikers, climbers, and snowmobilers, can support B.C.’s search and rescue groups by taking preparedness seriously,” the BCSARA says.

The association adds that being prepared for trips by bringing essentials like safety gear, satellite phones, and having first aid training can all help.

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