In the last two weeks, there have been several calls for emergency crews to rescue injured hikers on trails in the Okanagan.
On May 5, a 68-year-old woman had to be airlifted from the Rose Valley Dam Trail network. And, over the weekend, Penticton and District Search and Rescue (PENSAR) airlifted an injured hiker from Pincushion Mountain.
At the end of April, fire crews were called to Mount Baldy trail in Kelowna to rescue an injured hiker. An off-road rescue vehicle had to be brought in to carry the individual out of the area.
While it might seem as if crews are frequently being called out to assist in various rescues, Central Okanagan Search and Rescue (COSAR) search manager David Crawford said there hasn’t been an increase compared to years past.
He said calls for help are more common in the springtime as the weather changes and becomes ideal for hiking or camping.
“It’s very common for us to get this number of calls in the spring. People go too hard too fast because they get excited about the nice weather,” Crawford said.
“Here in the Okanagan region, we see stark weather differences at different altitudes and sometimes people don’t take that into account. If you leave the trailhead at lake level, you can see snow once you get up the hills, and it can happen very fast.”
But, he added that this year doesn’t seem to be better or worse than years past for rescue type calls. Crawford said a few things may factor into this. One could be people are listening to the provincial health officer’s recommendations of getting out and keeping a safe distance from others, which means people may make conservative choices when they go out and play it safe.
He said another one is the work AdventureSmart has done to remind people to stay safe when in the backcountry.
“There’s been a lot of work from (AdventureSmart) as well as various signage and communication from the provincial government on how to stay safe when heading out, and people have been listening to that.”
“We still go out and rescue people, but we do appreciate everyone making more conservative choices. We’d prefer not to go out and rescue people, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it puts our people and those we’re rescuing at an increased risk when we have to be in close proximity to perform rescues.”
“Of course, we’ll still come rescue you, but please make good choices so we won’t have to.”
Crawford said those who want to enjoy the trails should visit AdventureSmart’s site and learning tools first before heading out.
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