Ground SAR Callouts Surge During COVID-19, Stay Safe

Vancouver – British Columbia’s ground search and rescue (GSAR) groups have just wrapped up the busiest year in B.C. GSAR history.

As COVID-19 restrictions pushed people to explore outdoors, it also drew GSAR groups out to a record number of requests to assist the public.

“Our search and rescue volunteers in B.C. are world class, and they’ve continued to prove that through the challenge of a global pandemic,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “They jump into action in dangerous circumstances and inclement weather to protect public safety, and COVID-19 has only made their jobs harder. It’s our duty as British Columbians to protect them by ensuring we’ve taken safety precautions and are well-prepared for the unexpected when heading into the backcountry.”

Between April 2020 and April 2021, B.C.’s GSAR groups were deployed 1,959 times. This is an increase of nearly 25% when compared to callouts in previous years. Prior to this, B.C.’s GSAR groups attended an average of roughly 1,500 responses annually – more than the rest of Canada combined.

“B.C.’s 79 GSAR groups have been pushed to their limits,” said Chris Kelly, president, BC Search and Rescue Association. “COVID-19 has made risky work even more dangerous for each individual. I implore anyone heading out into the elements to do their part by planning ahead. Make sure you’re prepared for where you’re going – have a plan, have the right gear, know how to use it and take the training.”  

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