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Squamish SAR hits milestone number on weekend

With 102 calls as of Sept. 15, organization poised for record-breaking year
One of Squamish Search and Rescue's many calls this year. In August, crews were called Slot Machine at the Bulletheads of the Stawamus Chief to assist a climber who'd taken a ground fall.

Calls to Squamish Search and Rescue (SAR) might have slowed down last weekend, but the organization still hit a milestone on Friday, Sept. 11.

“Friday marked our 100th call,” said rescue manager BJ Chute. “In a calendar year — from January to December — we typically do 100 calls.”

That means they’re on track to record the highest-ever number of calls, which currently stands at 104 in 2018.

“We’ve done 102 to date,” Chute added. “We’re on track for being the busiest we’ve ever been.”

The majority of those calls have happened since June, a month after the province moved into Phase 3 of its reopening plan.

“We didn’t do any responses during the lockdown,” Chute said. “Basically, in four months we’ve done the lions share.”

As part of that stage, BC Parks reopened, but it wasn’t until July that popular local parks reopened with a new free day pass system.

“We’re seeing more people going further out,” Chute said. “Whether that’s a reaction to the restrictions on the Chief and other popular places in the Lower Mainland I wouldn’t know for sure, but certainly we’re seeing a greater number of people recreating in areas we don’t usually see.”

On top of that, anecdotally, there seem to be more people embracing outdoor activities, he added.

“I know in speaking to our local retailers, for example, they’re not able to keep a lot of outdoor gear in stock,” he said. “Even when you go out on the trails, you’re seeing more and more people.”

From Friday, Sept. 11, to Sunday, Sept. 13, Squamish SAR attended just three calls.

The first — and 100th call — was on Friday for a hiker who was lost in Murrin Provincial Park.

“She was located by phone on the railway tracks and walked to Britannia with assistance of RCMP,” Chute said.

Later that day, the team was called to Mount Garibaldi for a leg injury — only the caller provided two different locations. One in Squamish SAR territory and the other in Whistler.

The caller initially misidentified their location and rescuers later figured out the injured party was actually on the Rubble Creek trail, which falls under Whistler’s area.

However, that team was already on a call, so Squamish attended.

“When we get a call in we phone Whistler Search and Rescue and have a conversation with them,” Chute said. “Depending on the urgency and nature, we’ll respond, or they’ll respond, or we’ll both respond.”

On Sunday, they had another call in Garibaldi Provincial Park, this time to Castle Towers. The call came through BC Ambulance for a 38-year-old female who had a two-metre by two-metre rock roll over her on a boulder field.

She was extremely lucky, Chute said.

“She was in the rock field, so she was laying in between two rocks when it rolled over her,” he said. “The full weight didn’t crush her. She ended up walking to the ambulance with minor injuries.”