British Columbia

Hikers urged to prepare for backcountry trips after back-to-back Comox-area rescues

Comox Valley Search and Rescue says back-to-back rescues on Monday highlight the value of being prepared when heading into nature.

Hikers in 1st rescue activated satellite tracker, but teens trapped on river island had to scream to get help

A Cormorant Search and Rescue helicopter from 442 Squadron in Comox prepares to take off to rescue two hikers in Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island. (CBC)

Comox Valley Search and Rescue says back-to-back rescues on Monday highlight the value of being prepared when heading into nature.

Team member Paul Berry commended the two hikers in the first rescue for carrying a satellite tracker that allowed a rescue helicopter to find them quickly.

The hikers were found near Kwai Lake in Strathcona Provincial Park after they activated an SOS on the tracker, which sent a signal to the device system's headquarters, which then contacted local RCMP, who notified search and rescue.

Comox RCMP flew the rescue team to the beacon's coordinates, where they found the hikers, one of whom had suffered a broken wrist and injured knee.

"In this case, very seasoned hikers with experience, well prepared hikers in their 60s, had headed off from the Forbidden Plateau area and at some point [Monday] afternoon, one of them slipped," Berry told Robyn Burns, host of All Points West.

"It took us a little while just to sort out the coordinates that we received and then we're able to fly virtually direct to where these these people were located."

Berry said hikers need to make sure they are taking the right precautions before heading into the wilderness — and that doesn't mean relying on a cellphone.

"More and more we see that people rely on electronics," he said. "Often it is that they rely on cellphones but they forget that cellphones only work where signals exist.

He says the trails in the Comox area are not well marked and that hikers need to be able to navigate with a compass, map or GPS.

"Know the territory that you're heading into," says Berry.

River rescue

In the second rescue on Monday, two visiting teens from Alberta found themselves stranded on an small island in the Puntledge River, near Courtenay, after being unaware of the rising tides. 

The visitors screamed for help until they were eventually heard by a passerby. 

Berry said this again highlighted the importance of being prepared and having a way to alert others. 

"Whether it's a beacon, whistle or mirror, [hikers] should have something that intensifies their ability to be found," Berry said. 

Listen to the full interview here:

Comox Valley Search and Rescue member Paul Berry walks us through their latest rescues as the weather gets nice and more people wind up outdoors. 6:04

With files by All Points West

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