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North Shore Rescue expects to break another record for call-outs in 2019

FILE - Search and Rescue helicopter. (Mike Lloyd, NEWS 1130 Photo)

There were 142 rescues carried out by North Shore Rescue in 2018

'They're just very naive,' said NSR team leader of people who get in trouble in the backcountry

If you get stuck in the backcountry, call 9-1-1 first

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Following the year’s first rescue on the North Shore mountains earlier this week, the area’s search and rescue team isn’t hopeful this year will be any different from 2018’s record-setter.

Last year, there were 142 rescues carried out by North Shore Rescue and Team Leader Mike Danks thinks we’ll see much of the same in 2018.

He feels there are more people going into the backcountry, which drives up calls. But the issue is many of them don’t know what they’re doing.

“I keep saying this: ‘They’re just very naive.’ They really don’t understand how quickly you can get into trouble and I think — to be completely honest — they’ve gotten away with it. It’s only a matter of time before something goes sideways, so it really comes down to being prepared.”

Danks says if you insist on exploring the mountains, you should get some advice before venturing out.

“Talk to people who are getting out in the backcountry and discuss what they’re seeing in the snowpack. It is very dynamic. It really changes with the weather and conditions and it depends on the slopes and aspect as well. There’s no replacement for experience.”

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The conditions right now are a bit dangerous, especially if you get stuck because the snow is thick and icy.

He adds if you do get stuck, don’t call North Shore Rescue directly — call 9-1-1 first.

“That makes it a lot easier for us. We do get people who call 9-1-1 and then they continue to move and they lose their cell signal and that creates a real challenge for us.

“You should always call 9-1-1 — that goes to the police department. The police department gathers the information and they task whichever agency is responsible for that area. What happens with North Shore Rescue is we can’t self-dispatch. We need to be tasked by police, fire, ambulance or the emergency coordination centre. So, there is in a process in place. Certainly, we have been called directly before, but that call to the tasking agency does need to happen.”

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Danks says the group’s plan this year to help keep numbers down is to continue pushing their educational messaging about the backcountry. They’ve even re-launched a revamped website in the hopes more people will use it before heading out.