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Here's why you should carry a rescue beacon

Squamish SAR airlifted a kayaker after a nearby group activated their rescue beacon on Aug. 7.
SARAshlu River, Squamish
Ashlu River, Squamish.

Squamish Search and Rescue received several calls over the weekend, including a missing person, a mountain bike crash, a potential drowning, and more.

Three calls arrived on Sunday, with the most serious of them being a potential drowning on the Ashlu River.

Rescue manager B.J. Chute said crews, including volunteers from North Shore Rescue, responded to an InReach beacon activation in that case.

A kayaker fell into the Ashlu and was rescued by a nearby group boating in the waters. One of the people in the group was a paramedic, who was able to keep him alive.

"I think it's important to recognize the group that was there, and the experience level of this group of kayakers in being able to perform that self-rescue and get him to shore," said Chute.

Search and rescue crews were then able to airlift the man to Squamish Airport, where he was turned over to an air ambulance for transport to Vancouver. Chute said the man was in serious condition at the time.

"This was a very experienced kayaker and a very experienced group of kayakers that were able to self rescue this gentleman and get him safely to shore and provide life-saving measures to him," Chute said.

He added that the situation illustrated how important it is to carry rescue beacons in areas that do not have cell reception.

The other two calls involved an overturned raft in the Squamish River and a mountain bike crash on Pseudo-Tsuga.

Rescue crews stood down in both of those cases, as they were resolved by bystanders and other people in the area.

In the case of the overturned raft, a private jet boat operator was able to bring stranded boaters across the river.

"He managed to actually get those people from the little island or the bank where they were and just return them back to the roadside of the river," said Chute. "So it ended up being a non-event for us.

With respect to the mountain bike crash, bystanders and paramedics were able to bring the injured rider back to the ambulance.

On Friday, rescue crews were mobilized to assist with a search for a missing 21-year-old man, who was found hours after RCMP put out the call for help. Crews stood down.

BC Day long weekend

Prior to this past weekend, police, rescue crews and conservation officers were on their toes over the BC Day long weekend as crowds descended upon the Sea to Sky.

Conservation officers were doing safety checks, and officers were attending to thefts and rescue crews were assisting people in need.

Despite the influx of visitors, it was a surprisingly calm weekend for Squamish Search and Rescue

Over the three-day break from July 30 to Aug. 1, rescuers only had one call — two, if you counted Friday evening.

Chute said crews received a call on July 29 just before 10 p.m. to help a person who was hanging upside down for two hours.

The incident occurred at the Squamish River crossing used to access the Lake Lovely Water trail. People who don't have a boat to cross the river usually use cables that are suspended above the water.

In this case, a group of people were travelling back from the Lake Lovely Water side.

One person fell while traversing and was caught by a cable he'd clipped into with his harness. However, because his harness was not fitted properly, he was left dangling upside down and could not right himself.

"We sent a rescuer out tethered to a line out the cable to try and right him, which, ultimately, we were able to do, and then finish[ed] [by] pulling him across to the Squamish side of the river," said Chute.

On July 31, crews were called out to help a man who had dislocated his finger near Castle Towers Mountain.

He was unable to continue climbing, so his party lowered him to an area where rescue crews were able to reach him.

"We were able to fly in with a hasty team and land nearby…and walk him back to the helicopter where he was flown back to Squamish and handed over to BC ambulance paramedics," Chute said.

The number of calls was below what was expected on a busy weekend.

"We were pleasantly surprised by that," Chute said. "It seems like most teams in this area are down a significant number of calls this year compared to last. So, it's going to be interesting to see how it all comes together."

As of Aug. 8, there have been 74 calls this year. Last year, that number was 101, and the year before it was 66.

Fire calls

Squamish Fire Rescue received 20 calls throughout the long weekend and responded to two contained nuisance fires, one structure fire, three motor vehicle accidents and one rescue call, according to the District of Squamish.

On patrol

At the same time, over those three days, the Sea to Sky conservation officer service was busy patrolling Whistler lakes.

"The focus was boater safety, and then lake safety," said Brittany Mueller, a conservation officer in the Sea to Sky.

Mueller said they made 450 checks during the weekend. On Saturday alone, there were 169 people who were found to not be compliant with Transport Canada safety regulations.

For the most part, those people were educated on the rules, and they made steps to address them. Some examples of violations included boating without life jackets or boating without a buoyant rescue rope.

Officers spent most of their time doing checks on Alta Lake and Green Lake.

Mueller recommends that people check Transport Canada's Safe Boating Guide before heading out on the water to make sure everyone stays out of danger while on the water.

RCMP calls

In the meantime, RCMP officers report there were several incidents over the long weekend.

Sometime between July 30 and 31, thieves entered a car at the Diamond Head trail lot and stole a backpack containing identification and bank cards. Fraudulent transactions in Squamish and the Lower Mainland were linked to one of the cards, which have since been cancelled.

On July 30, a car drove into a ditch, prompting police to issue the driver a ticket for excessive speed and careless driving. No one was hurt in the collision.

That same day, in a different case, police were called out to confront a motor boat driver doing donuts in a public swim area at Porteau Cove.

The driver didn't listen to the officers' directions to stop and speak with police. RCMP then impounded the boater's trailer after finding that its insurance was expired. Mounties also issued a ticket for having an uninsured vehicle.

In a separate incident that night, thieves broke into a shed on the 6500-block of Squamish Valley Road and stole $7,000 worth of tools. This included a 200 cc Honda water pump, a 196 cc Honda fire pump, a Husqvarna 550 50.1 cc chainsaw, a Husqvarna 572 70.7 cc chainsaw and a Yamaha EF3000ISE generator.

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