KAMLOOPS - After a record year for tasks in 2016, Kamloops Search and Rescue could be on track to surpass that this year.
Search manager Alan Hobler says the team has been called for 35 tasks so far this year, and even with a quiet summer due to smoke, wildfires, and restrictions on backcountry access, it could be their busiest year on record.
"Last year was our busiest on record, with 39 tasks," he says.
As for why numbers are going up, Hobler says there is no solid reason.
"There’s lots of speculation but nobody really knows for sure," he says. "There hasn’t been sort of a deep, kind of dig into understanding the reason why."
Although the number of searches Kamloops Search and Rescue has been called out for has been increasing, Hobler says the number of rescues they've been tasked out to has been going down.
"I think... we’re seeing less calls for rescues because people can self-rescue," he says.
Now that virtually everyone has a smart phone on hand, it's easier to navigate out of a sticky situation – so long as there's cell phone coverage. But B.C. Search and Rescue said earlier this week that reliance on cell phones are playing a role in the high number of search and rescue calls across the province.
Hobler says cell phones can be beneficial to people navigating the backcountry in B.C., but that shouldn't be the only tool you have on hand, especially if you're inexperienced with the backcountry's landscape.
"The terrain is a lot more technical, a lot easier to get hurt and to get lost as well," he says.
He says his number one tip for hikers is to utilize the AdventureSmart program before heading out. Plan your trip, leave the plan with someone you trust, and prepare yourself for a trip that could take longer than expected.
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