Paul Berry is the search manager with Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue.                                CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Paul Berry is the search manager with Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

More hikers means more emergencies for Vancouver Island Search and Rescue

Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue Strathcona Park medical rescue part of trend

A medical rescue in Strathcona Park this week is indicative of the type of summer area search and rescue teams are having this year.

And heading into a sunny long weekend, more is expected.

Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue members were dispatched Monday to rescue a woman suffering from a back injury in the Circlet Lake area.

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Paul Berry, CVGSAR president said the relatively “straightforward” rescue happened thanks to an inReach device the woman had with her — a two-way satellite communicator which sends and receives data.

“The woman had a back injury and her inReach gave us the exact longitude and latitude at the lake.”

Berry explained three members of their team responded to the call by helicopter and discovered the woman had a reoccurence of a previous back injury.

The woman was placed on a clamshell backboard in order to be transported by air to the Courtenay Airpark, and then taken to hospital by BC Ambulance. 

Berry noted the woman was prepared as she had an inReach device.

“With everyone heading out in the backcountry, many people rely on their cell phone, but there’s many areas where there’s no cell coverage. A secondary communication device is really important.”

In terms of rescues, Berry said although last summer was their second busiest on record, numbers are continued to trend up. Currently, the unit is five rescues ahead of 2018.

One factor is an increase in medical evacuations in the backcountry; another is that more people are heading to explore the outdoors.

Berry noted with the Labour Day long weekend on the horizon, he is preparing for busy days ahead.

He suggests anyone taking a trip in the backcountry to file a trip plan which includes where and when the trip is taking place, the route and an expected time of return.

“Check the weather – it’s the second most calls we get are people getting disoriented because of weather,” he added.

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