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COVID-19 takes toll on Kamloops Search and Rescue safety supplies

Citynews 1130 Vancouver
Kamloops SAR says it's running low on gloves, masks, and sanitizing wipes. (Courtesy Kamloops SAR)

Team needs donations of masks, gloves, and wipes

If supplies run out, team won't be able to respond to calls for help

Avalanche Canada issues final forecast for the season

KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) – Kamloops Search and Rescue is running low on safety supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic and asking for donations.

It needs masks, gloves, and wipes, and if donations aren’t received, the team will run out of supplies and won’t be able to respond to calls for help.

Meanwhile, Avalanche Canada will provide its final conditions update Saturday, and may cut its season short because the integrity of forecasting has eroded during the pandemic.

“We’ve made the difficult decision to issue our final three-day forecast for the season on March 28,” the organization says in a tweet. “The final forecast will be valid until March 30.”

The final forecast is about a month earlier than normal.

“The early closure of backcountry operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic has cut off much of that data stream, so the warning service is no longer receiving enough information to issue accurate forecasts,” Avalanche Canada says in a release.

This decision is also prompted by concerns for the health care system.

“We do not want to provide a service that promotes recreating in mountainous terrain, where there is often significant hazard,” says Gilles Valade, executive director of Avalanche Canada.

“Both B.C. and Alberta have declared a state of emergency. Our health authorities, as well as our prime minister, are urging people to stay home. This is clearly not the time for taking any sort of risk.”

Avalanche Canada will also shut down the Mountain Information Network, an online platform allows backcountry users to submit trip reports and observations from the field. Avalanche Canada does not want network reports to serve as encouragement to go into the backcountry.

“We do not take these steps lightly,” adds Valade. “Avalanche Canada is the national public avalanche safety organization and we take our responsibilities very seriously. But we feel it is essential that we work together and do what we can to avoid putting any extra load on our healthcare system at this time.”