Skip to content

Squamish Search and Rescue records first call of 2021

2020 had a grand total of 120 calls, breaking the previous 104-call record of 2018

Not even a week into the new year, and Squamish Search and Rescue has already received their first call.

2020 closed out with a record-breaking 120 calls.

That number eclipses the previous record set in 2018 of 104 calls.

However, for the year of 2021, the call count stands at one, as of Jan. 2.

Rescue manager B.J. Chute said that two people were stranded on a small island that day in the Mamquam River, about five kilometres north of Powerhouse Springs Road.

The couple took a swim to the island to ring in the new year. However, the water level rose rapidly and they were unable to return to shore.

"I think there's some valuable...lessons," said Chute.

"I know this time of year we tend to focus on snow safety and avalanche warnings, but, obviously, with the fluctuation in the snowpack and the storms, we can have a rapid rise and fall of our rivers and lakes as well."

Search and rescue members were called in, but due to the poor weather and conditions, they held off on making a rescue until the next day.

"Given the level of water that was coming down due to the storm, and the fact that it was dark and [there was] a cliff on the other side, we elected to make the difficult decision to leave them there for the night and come back at daylight," said Chute. "So we communicated that to them."

The couple stayed the night on the island and crews came back the next day.

A good weather window allowed for rescuers to fly a helicopter into the area and longline out the pair, though Chute said they'd also been prepared for a swiftwater rescue, if necessary.

Aside from being cold and hungry, the pair was uninjured, and, after being examined, was allowed to return home.

The two were lucky in that they were initially found by another couple that happened to be in the area.

Chute said it's a good reminder that emergency contacts are necessary. If they hadn't been spotted, things may have gone differently.

They hadn't designated an emergency contact to call rescuers in case they didn't arrive at a specified time, meaning crews could have been significantly delayed or might have not even arrived at all, he said.

Chute reiterated the importance of preparation and having emergency contacts who know your intended return time.