Calls to search and rescue in B.C. drop to pre-pandemic levels
'People are travelling and now going elsewhere for their recreation and not so much into British Columbia'
The B.C. Search and Rescue Association says calls for help have returned to pre-pandemic levels after a surge in 2021 as more people headed out to enjoy the outdoors at the height of the pandemic.
The federal government advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel in mid-March 2020 over concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which led to increased activity in B.C.'s backcountry.
B.C. Search and Rescue Association CEO Dwight Yochim says a sharp uptick in calls for help in 2021 was a "wakeup" for crews across the province and for people who were unprepared and inexperienced.
"We did hit a record of around 2,100 searches. We're more back down to about 1,400, which is something we are more used to," said Yochim.
He said some rescue crews were involved in three rescues a day.
Another reason for the increase in rescues, Yochim said, was calls for help during the atmospheric river which caused widespread flooding in November of 2021.
The association's data shows that numbers have now dropped below last year's projected increase.
"People are travelling, and they're now going elsewhere for their recreation and not so much into British Columbia," he explained.
Still, the association's data analysis shows the projected number of rescues is expected to double by 2046.
Yochim is urging people to do their part keeping safe outdoors by preparing for trips.
He says 78 volunteer crews are also grappling with the increase in costs for their work and equipment due to inflation.