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Call for help if you get lost in the backcountry: it's free

Last Updated Sep 12, 2019 at 12:46 pm PDT


If you get lost in the backcountry and need to be rescued, you won't be charged

North Shore Rescue is reminding people calling for help is free

A seriously-injured hiker didn't call for help because he thought he would be charged

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A seriously injured man on Crown Mountain last week didn’t call for help because he was worried he would be charged for the rescue, according to North Shore Rescue.

Team Leader Mike Danks says that’s not true, and wants to remind people asking for help is free. He adds no SAR team province-wide charges for rescues.

“We’re a volunteer search and rescue team. We do not charge for rescues. We volunteer because we’re passionate about our community and about recreating in the outdoors and we’re there to help people in need. Our big thing is really to push for people to call early if they need help then we can figure out the situation. Maybe they can walk out on their own or maybe they do need a rescue, but those are things we can figure out once we’ve touched base with that person. They wait until the very last minute before darkness to call for rescue, or they’ll wait until they’re critically injured to call for rescue, and you know what, that’s just not worth it at all,” he says.

In this case, he explains the man was hurt, but was afraid he would be charged if he called for help.

“He ended up taking a fall, and I believe he did have a head injury and hurt his lower leg, so he was not able to walk and he ended up spending the night,” he says.

RELATED: North Shore Rescue sees ‘significant’ drop in calls after record-setting years

“I would love to speak with the [man] to find out where that information came from because, again, we have it on our website, we preach it all the time in the media, so it’s certainly misinformation that’s getting out there.”
Danks is worried someone could die in the backcountry if they’re too afraid to call and this topic was discussed years ago but nothing ever came of it.

“We did have a case a number of years ago following a rescue we did where there was talk of charging for a rescue and it was actually a tourist of Vancouver that had heard the news and heard the media talk about, ‘Should people be charged for rescues?’ and his understanding is he would be charged, so he did not call until he got injured and that’s really unfortunate.”

The injured man in this case, had serious head and lower leg injuries and was unable to walk on his own. He spent the night alone on the mountain and was helped by another hiker the following morning.

North Shore Rescue is one of the busiest teams in North America and saw a record number of call-outs in 2015, 2016, and in 2017 – but last year was the highest ever reported with 144 calls.