Search and rescue groups throughout British Columbia — including Kamloops — saw an increase in calls for help in the past year, due to more people getting outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, Kamloops Search and Rescue responded to a record number of calls in 2020.
Throughout B.C., 79 search and rescue groups were deployed 1,959 times in the past fiscal year (March 31, 2020, to March 31, 2021), compared to 1,500 times on average in previous fiscal years.
Kamloops Search and Rescue secretary Cat Lapointe said 50 search and rescue incidents occurred locally in 2020, compared to 44 in 2019, showing an increase in activity last year.
“That’s the highest number of tasks we’ve had in one year,” Lapointe said.
The number of incidents does not reflect the amount of work, however. In 2020, Kamloops Search and Rescue logged 2,030 hours on incidents, training, repairs and maintenance, which was down from 2,920 hours in 2019. Lapointe said 2019 involved longer searches.
In 2020, Kamloops Search and Rescue experienced an increase in calls for mutual aid, Lapointe said, which is a request to help neighbouring teams.
“People were just getting out and about more often last year, especially staying locally,” she said. “We had a pretty nice winter and a nice summer last year.”
The weather is again improving and the province is advising winter conditions continue at higher elevations. Last year, 10 people in B.C. died in avalanches.
Lapointe is asking anyone planning outdoor adventures to leave a trip plan with someone, including where they are going and when they plan to be back. People are also advised to bring essentials, including extra clothing, food, water, a first-aid kid and a flashlight.
For more information on how to best prepare for outdoor recreation, go online to adventuresmart.ca.
This year, Kamloops Search and Rescue has been recruiting new volunteers and has a contingent of 48.
“We’re just keeping on with our training here locally and always ready to come out and help,” Lapointe said.
For more information on Kamloops Search and Rescue, click here.