B.C. search-and-rescue crews see spike in calls as they face additional dangers amid coronavirus

B.C. search-and-rescue volunteers say they are experiencing a spike in calls while also grappling with increased risk due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The B.C. Search and Rescue Association says volunteers responded to 23 calls last week, an increase of 35 per cent over the same period last year.

The association warns that as the province works to reopen recreation sites, now is not the time for hikers to take risks as crews have to worry about not only the terrain, but also the dangers of COVID-19.

North Shore Rescue was called to Mosquito Creek in North Vancouver on Thursday after two men were unable to make their way out of a ravine.

“Six months ago, we would rush in, equipment was not required, we could touch the subjects, no problem at all,” Peter Haigh of North Shore Rescue said.

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“Today it could be a death sentence if we touch them. So we can’t take enough precautions with volunteers who have families and work to do and so on. We just can’t take the risk.”

The BCSARA urges the public to heed the advice of provincial health officials and stay close to home, practise physical distancing and keep social circles small.

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