Search and rescue teams see record call volumes in 2017
Significant increase in calls to find missing people with dementia
Coquitlam Search and Rescue (SAR) had more call-outs in 2017 than any year in its history.
The volunteer, non-profit organization received 54 calls for help, a 38 per cent increase over last year.
Michael Coyle, a manager with Coquitlam SAR, says it's hard to pinpoint the exact cause.
"What I can say is that the number of hours we've spent on task is the same," he said. "In general, people are about as responsible as they've always been. Perhaps, they're quicker to call now."
Coyle said newer technology and cell phone GPSs have helped locate people sooner.
Increase in calls to locate people with dementia
But Coquitlam SAR says it has seen an alarming increase in the amount of calls for help in locating people with dementia — 18 per cent of calls last year came in from police who were contacted by family members looking for loved ones.
Most of those calls came from Burnaby.
"Typically, the person is found but not necessarily by us. It's quite likely they are found by other people, said Coyle.
"Sometimes they get on a bus. Sometimes they walk many, many blocks — their health can be delicate and they don't ask for help."
North Shore Rescue calls up 30 per cent
Mike Danks with North Shore Rescue (NSR) said it too has seen a large increase in calls for help — more than 120 in 2017. That's up 30 per cent in the last three years.
Danks said more detailed statistics will be released in the coming days.
One of Coquitlam SAR's most widely publicized rescues came during a massive three day search for missing dog walker Annette Poitras.
Poitras went missing in a backcountry area of Coquitlam in November. Search teams from throughout the Lower Mainland were dispatched and Poitras was rescued by teams using a long line and a helicopter in an area off-limits to hikers and dog walkers.
Coquitlam SAR serves Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, New Westminster and Burnaby.
More than 50 men and women volunteer for the search and rescue organization. There are 2,500 search and rescue volunteers across B.C.