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Chilliwack Search and Rescue records busiest day on record possibly due to inexperienced hikers

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Aug 2, 2020 at 2:08 pm PDT

File photo. (Courtesy Chilliwack Search and Rescue Facebook)

COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) — On Friday, Chilliwack Search and Rescue reported a record number of calls as the weather heats up and more people are spending time outdoors amidst COVID-19.

The Chilliwack team received six calls in ten hours, and team leader David Casey says the pattern of calls they’ve received are from people who are not as experienced.

“I think there’s a lot more locals out and maybe they don’t have the same experience. But the people that we’ve dealt with the last couple of weeks, it’s been pretty difficult,” he says.

“It’s the very experienced people who don’t usually call us at all. They kind of self-rescue.”

Casey says it is hard to say what kind of injuries reported this year versus the last are significantly different, but there have been more of them.

“We definitely are busier this year. We’re definitely ahead of the numbers we were for last year.”

As of July 29, Chilliwack search and rescue reported 58 tasks, but they usually receive up to 80 calls annually.

Coquitlam Search and Rescue Manager, Jim Delgrande says they are recording similar patterns and there has been a convergence of factors that are putting hikers in high-risk situations this year.

“The nice weather, people starting to get out and about more with the pandemic. But also areas getting overcrowded, and in some cases closed down. And so what that’s doing is essentially forcing people to look for other areas that they might not be so familiar with.”

Delgrande adds, due to COVID-19, more heavy resources are needed for the team to maintain social distancing — like PPE and using helicopter more frequently.

If you are thinking of spending more time on the trail, Delgrande stresses you need to plan ahead.

“Especially these days, do some things in your capabilities. Look at essentials, make sure you have them. And especially in this hot weather, take extra water to extra sun protection.”