A combination of big snow and big crowds led to lots of call outs for Revelstoke Search & Rescue over the holiday period.
SAR responded to 12 calls to help out lost, missing, overdue or injured snowmobilers from December 17 to January 1.
“It’s brought on by the amount of sledders that were here,” said Andrew Inkster, one of five managers of Revelstoke SAR. “There was a high volume and with the storms that creates problems for these guys.”
The calls were for a variety of reasons. Two were due to injuries — in a Dec. 18 instance, BC Ambulance was able to land at the scene and fly the victim out. In a Jan. 1 incident, SAR helped someone with a broken leg and brought them off the mountain to a waiting ambulance.
The other 10 calls were for missing, stuck, lost of overdue snowmobilers, though in six cases, the parties got out on their own without the help of SAR.
“The bottom line is people need to be more prepared if things go sideways,” said Inkster. “If they have a way of communicating back with somebody or left a travel plan with somebody, and are prepared to spend the night on their own. A survival blanket and a canvas will do a lot to keep you alive.”
He didn’t think there was anything out of the norm leading to all the people calling for rescues. He noted that on Thursday, they had to rescue their first two skiers out of bounds at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
“When we haven’t had snow for a while on the ski hill, they go chasing fresh snow out of bounds, and that creates problems,” he said.
Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky of the Revelstoke RCMP said they are conducting parking lot patrols at Boulder Mountain to advise snowmobilers on the need to be ready for emergencies.
“It is a continuation of the usual lack of training for some people and preparedness,” he said. “The RCMP is asking people to think about he activity they’re doing. This is not an amusement ride. This is the middle of nowhere and a very challenging activity. Be prepared.”
While the calls do put pressure on SAR volunteers, Grabinsky said they always prefer people call for help if they run into problems.
“There’s no charge. The RCMP will immediately assess the situation,” he said. If necessary, we’ll activate SAR. They’ll get as much info as possible before they launch. And then they’ll go help people.”
Inkster said it is hard on the volunteers because the calls often come in late in the day as it’s getting dark. “Guys are tired but it seems we have enough people that are willing to help out so we’re able to pull enough guys together to do what we need to do,” he said.