Search and rescue groups ask public to stay out of the backcountry

Stay out of the backcountry

The B.C. Search and Rescue Association is urging the public to stay out of the backcountry this long weekend.

With Easter being one of the busiest times of the year for rescue groups, they are asking people to play safe in a bid to keep the number of callouts low, CTV News reports.

"BCSARA would like to remind the public, now is not the time to venture into B.C.'s wilderness. Like the province of B.C. has said, explore B.C…later," the BCSARA said in a news release.

"(Ground search and rescue) groups across the province have halted training to avoid the risk of spreading COVID-19 and are conducting online training and meetings to ensure they are ready should they receive a call for assistance," added BCSARA. "However, that self-imposed isolation is lost when they answer the call for help and 20 to 30 members come together to assist in the rescue of someone they do not know."

During a pandemic, the organization says interaction with a lost or injured person can put rescuers at risk. Volunteers have been outfitted with personal protective equipment and will put a mask on the person being rescued, but it's still a situation they would like to avoid if possible.

B.C. search and rescue groups respond to an average of 121 calls in April, but have seen a 50 per cent reduction in calls in the first week of this month.

with files from CTV Vancouver

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