Vancouver Island rescuers report busy season on island trails, peaks
CAMPBELL RIVER -- Search and rescue groups on Vancouver Island continue to be busy, with one group in particular being called out a half-dozen times in the last week and a half.
"Busy is one word that you could use, super busy is a probably more accurate phrase," says Campbell River Search and Rescue leader Daryl Beck.
Beck says three recent calls were mountain operations while another three were to nearby Discovery Island.
The most recent was Wednesday morning when an injured hiker had to be extracted from along the Elk River Trail. The search team was contacted by BC Ambulance Tuesday but it was late in the day.
The daylight was fading fast so three members flew in by helicopter and ended up spending the night with the woman on the trail and then another team went in by helicopter to assist with extraction Wednesday morning.
"It was a bit unique for our members staying overnight and camping but they had a reasonably good night of it and [were] up early this morning waiting to be brought home," Beck says.
Carrie Bragg was hiking along the trail when her friend Amber slipped and is believed to have broken her ankle. Bragg hiked eight kilometres out and then drove 20 minutes to Gold River so she could get cell service to contact rescuers.
"It was 4 p.m. when it happened so it was a really quick decision, Bragg says. "Basically she couldn't bear any weight on her ankles so we just made the decision to leave here there with all the overnight stuff and I went in as quickly as I could."
She says her friend was rattled by the incident but was grateful for rescuers as well as two hikers from Quebec who assisted along the trail.
"Couldn't be more blessed, honestly, to have people who volunteer their time to do this kind of thing," Bragg says.
The series of calls has been wearing on volunteers and has meant extra duties to keep equipment sanitized between missions, according to team safety officer Nancy Dwyer.
"We've always sanitized because we are dealing often with people with injuries or bodily fluids or they may have a communicable disease of some kind," Dwyer says. "So we've always sanitized, but now with COVID, of course, the requirement is a lot higher. It's been crazy, it's been almost double what we normally do."
Team members are hoping things will begin to slow down.
"I think everyone's in this volunteer business because they enjoy that type of activities," Beck says. "[But] some of the members who have been on most of these operations are feeling it a little bit."