B.C. Search and Rescue Association and Emergency Management B.C. issued a statement on March 27 appealing to the public to take extra caution if choosing to do outdoor activities. The ask that people both maintain adequate social distancing measure but also use precautions to ensure you don’t become lost or injured.
B.C. has around 2500 search and rescue volunteers who respond to calls all over the province to assist people who’ve gotten themselves lost, stranded or injured in the outdoors.
”With the COVID-19 pandemic, the risks these volunteers and other personnel take are heightened, as there is a risk of virus transmission during a call,” the release stated. “By taking extra precautions, people help reduce the risk to search and rescue volunteers, other responders, and front-line health care workers.”
They provided a list of points people need to consider before going into the outdoors during the pandemic.
First, be aware that park access may have changed. Due to how complex and perpetually-changing this situation is, it is important to stay on top of what parks and high-use areas have been shut down, so check with park information sources before hitting the road.
SAR volunteer levels may fluctuate, as the volume and type of responses are constantly changing while volunteers deal with their own needs and challenges related to COVID-19.
Again, always remember to maintain physical distance from others, even when outside. This will help prevent transmission of COVID-19.
“While it is recognized that physical activity is essential for mental wellbeing in these trying times, the need for physical distance during any activity is more important,” read the release. “So make sure you stay at least two meters apart from others, avoid going in groups, visit parks during less busy times, and stay home if you’re sick.”
Also be mindful that Avalanche Canda is ending their forecasting early this year, and avalanches are still a threat, so the organization is reminding people that this is a time to stay home and not the time to be taking any risk.
“Avoid taking any unnecessary risks and if you’re unsure of the level of risk in your area, stay home.”
Ground Search and Rescue operate under the safety maxim of “self, team, bystanders and then subject. This means they will step back from a response if it puts them at undue risk.
”They also need to return to their families. Should risk of exposure to the responders exceed an acceptable level a response will be delayed until additional steps can be taken to reduce the risk.”
People can check www.adventuresmart.ca for information and resources, but the reminder to use extra caution during this time can not be stressed enough.
“If you are not fully prepared then stick to walks in an urban area close to home while maintaining physical distancing following the Provincial Health Officer’s directions.”