Over the Labour Day long weekend, search and rescue units across B.C. responded to 53 calls for help. In Squamish, the SAR unit was only called once over the three days.
On Sunday, Sept. 1 around 1:40 p.m., Squamish SAR was called to assist the Squamish fire department with an injured mountain biker. The biker was suspected to have a head injury in Smoke Bluffs Park, on the In-N-Out Burger trail. The SAR volunteers and firefighters worked together to evacuate the patient on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance.
Squamish SAR president BJ Chute said he didn't know the circumstances around the person's injuries. In SAR's file about the incident, Chute said it notes the biker is from B.C., but didn't know if he is local to Squamish.
When asked why this long weekend likely had fewer calls to Squamish SAR, Chute said, "I really don't know. It's impossible to predict when calls are going to happen, and then it's impossible to predict where and the severity. Obviously, Squamish is a place that people come to recreate, and Squamish SAR will be here if people are in need."
This summer, Squamish SAR received six calls virtually back-to-back over the B.C. Day long weekend. Last year's B.C. Day also saw same-day calls, although slightly fewer, with four in total. Both the May and Canada Day weekends had two calls this year compared to 2018's three over Victoria Day weekend and five over Canada Day weekend. For both of those long weekends last year, three of those calls came in on the same day.
Only Labour Day weekend had the same number of calls in Squamish: one. In 2018, the Labour Day call was a false alarm. The Royal Canadian Marine SAR unit in Squamish didn't receive any calls this past long weekend.
"Is BC AdventureSmart education and outreach working, making a difference?" BC AdventureSmart's executive director, Sandra Riches, said in an email. "We'd like to say yes. Were our efforts a direct relation to only one call this past long weekend in Squamish, we can't define that unfortunately."
Riches added that the organization's safety and trip planning messages were shared throughout the province and Sea to Sky Corridor. Across the province, as in Squamish, the B.C. Day weekend was the busiest in B.C., with 72 incidents. Victoria Day and Canada Day weekends both saw 41 incidents, while there were 53 over the Labour Day weekend.
In the North Shore, Riches said, the number of SAR calls this summer was down by 22. This was in part because other first responders, including fire rescue, have performed rescues in the front-country areas, canyons and trails.
"It's the same for every weekend — long weekend, short weekend, weekend warrior — we, the BC SAR volunteers and BC AdventureSmart, want outdoor enthusiasts to always be AdventureSmart and think of the ‘what-ifs'," Riches said. "We strongly encourage everyone (residents, new Canadians and tourists) to go through the steps of planning for your activity (planning your trip and filing a trip plan), having the proper training for your activity and taking essential safety gear."
"Generally speaking, though, busy, sunny long weekends in the corridor means it's going to be a busy time for all the emergency services, including SAR," Chute said.
Looking forward, The Chief asked Chute what advice he has for people going outdoors as the summer winds down.
"Right now, one of the big things for people to know when they're going outside is to be aware of the daylight and how quickly it becomes dark these days. Our days are becoming shorter as we enter into the fall," Chute said.