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North Shore Rescue responds to four simultaneous calls

The common theme in the four calls was injuries caused by falls, which are often blamed on hikers having inadequate footwear.
Talon Mike Danks web
A Talon Helicopter prepares to land with North Shore Rescue volunteers on Mount Seymour, July 4, 2021.

North Shore Rescue members were tasked with four simultaneous calls on Saturday (Aug.  20), a new record for the team.

Starting at 3:30 p.m., the team’s emergency pager rang three times in an hour, each one for a new request to help an injured hiker.

The rescues themselves were quite straightforward, with team members being able to quickly get helicopter access to Kennedy Falls in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and Eagle Bluffs in Cypress Provincial Park, said search manager Allan McMordie. Volunteers were able to resolve the third call, which was for a woman with an injured shoulder on the St. Mark’s Summit, by guiding her back to safety and staying in communication with her. The fourth call came in soon after when a group of hikers called to report an injured woman unable to walk on the Howe Sound Crest Trail, also near St. Marks. Team members searched the area on foot and spoke with a dozen hikers in the area but there was no sign of the injured woman, a likely indication she’d made it out on her own.

“I have simultaneously managed two tasks, but I've never had to manage four all at once, so that's a record,” McMordie said. “It just shows how well we work as a team these days with North Shore Rescue”

The common theme in the four calls, McMordie said, was injuries caused by falls, which are often blamed on hikers having inadequate footwear. Anyone headed into the North Shore backcountry should be wearing hiking boots with proper ankle support, he said.

“People are expecting that they can do these trails in running shoes, like they're walking in Stanley Park or something,” he said. “They’re not a walk in the park. They're mountainous trails.”

Compared to last summer, which was part of a record-smashing year for rescue call volumes, things have been relatively quiet for the all-volunteer team, McMordie said. North Shore Rescue has had 84 calls so far in 2022. This time last year, they had 154.

A big part of that is the rolling back of pandemic restrictions, which in 2021 sent thousands more people out to the trails in search of safe recreation, McMordie said.

“They can now go to football games and Whitecaps games. They can go to restaurants and sit on patios,” he said.

This year, people also may be more cautious about going out in extreme heat, McMordie speculated.

McMordie said the team’s members would also like to think their many hours dedicated to trail safety education for the public are starting to pay dividends.

“Maybe people are taking little better care of themselves, making sure that they are back before it gets dark, taking the essentials with them,” he said.

Getting the four calls wrapped up in a timely fashion this weekend was only possible because people called for help as soon as they knew they were in trouble, McMordie said.

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