TUMBLER RIDGE, B.C. – As the snow lingers and the sun shines longer, it’s important for British Columbians to remember a few key rules for outdoor activities as they head into nature.
Tumbler Ridge Search and Rescue manager Steve Tory says the most important thing to do is let someone know what you are doing.
“Even if it’s just a hike that they’ve done 100 times before, letting somebody know where you’re going and when you’re expecting to be back is really essential for us,” says Tory.
TRSAR monitors an area of more than 10,000 square kilometres.
“On occasion, we get a callout that is just, ‘my husband was in Tumbler Ridge’, that is a challenge. If a trip plan is left with your spouse or best friend or anybody you trust, that’s a huge help to us.”
Another suggestion is to read and obey posted signs, especially road signs.
“There have been a crazy, absolutely crazy with a capital C, number of people trying to drive Kinuseo Falls this winter. That road has never been accessible. In the wintertime, it just isn’t maintained, and it gets people into a lot of trouble.”
TRSAR calls for help were up this winter.
“We usually rescue about one person per winter. This year we’ve rescued three already, and we know of about 10 more people rescued by workers in the area. A sign was put up this winter because of all the traffic, and people have been driving past that.”
Tory says a common mistake people make is that they think calling for help will cost them money, so they try to get out of the situation themselves.
“One thing everyone should know is, search and rescue doesn’t cost you anything. Sometimes people wait to call us, and they’re thinking, I can handle it, I don’t want this big bill at the other end of this. There’s no charge for search and rescue, so call us early.”
Besides the fact that SAR crews are better equipped to respond to emergencies than regular people, Tory says they usually can only respond to calls in daylight.
“A lot of our calls come in right at dusk, and we do have a restriction. We’re not allowed to enter avalanche terrain in the dark; there’s no wiggle room on that rule whatsoever.”
Tumbler Ridge Search and Rescue is a 100 per cent volunteer-run organization, with members coming from various backgrounds and skillsets.
According to Tory, with 20 members in Tumbler Ridge Search and Rescue, the ratio of Search and Rescue members to residents is approximately one in 100.