A search and rescue helicopter heads toward a deadly avalanche site in a March 14, 2010 photo near Revelstoke, B.C. An avalanche expert is warning people planning to hit backcountry slopes in eastern British Columbia and western Alberta in the coming days to be extra careful. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Rescue teams warn backcountry users to limit risk in Alberta, B.C. mountains

Rescuers note that they are responsible for taking injured backcountry users to hospitals

Rescue groups are asking backcountry users to choose low-risk activities at a time when resources are stretched due to COVID-19.

The Alberta government has asked ski hills in the province to close to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It’s feared the closure could lure more outdoor enthusiasts into the backcountry to ski or snowshoe, given one of the best snowpacks in recent years.

Parks Mountain Safety, which responds to rescues in the mountain national parks, has asked people to keep their personal risk to an absolute minimum.

The organization says it’s not the time for a backcountry accident, which could stress the capacity of its rescue teams and further burden the health-care system during the COVID pandemic.

Similar warnings have come from Kananaskis Public Safety in Alberta and Fernie Search and Rescue in B.C.

“With the unprecedented challenges regarding COVID-19, we wanted to reassure people that (we) remain fully operational and able to respond,” said a statement by Fernie Search and Rescue on its Facebook page.

“We also recognize that with many of our obvious outlets for enjoying the great outdoors being closed or limited, we are likely to see more people heading into the backcountry.”

Rescuers note that they are responsible for taking injured backcountry users to hospitals.

“This is a health-care system that is already under huge pressure, and a health-care system where most of us would prefer to avoid spending time as a patient at the moment,” said the statement. “Furthermore, every rescue we undertake increases the risk of our SAR technicians being infected and diminishing our response capability.”

The statement repeated a message from both Alberta Parks and Parks Canada.

“We would like to suggest that now is a good time to take conservative decisions with regards to terrain, activity and risk-taking,” said Fernie Search and Rescue.

The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eckville Food Bank short on some items

Heather Allen, FCSS director, says it’s always important to donate to the food bank

Non-profits that are helping people impacted by COVID-19 can apply for relief funding

Red Deer and District FCSS can draw from a provincial pot of $30 million

No Alberta renter will be evicted for non-payment on April 1, promises the premier

No evictions during the entire Alberta public health emergency

Former Stettler resident helps to develop a potential prototype ventilator

Peter Brockley, who now lives in the West Kootenays, was a teacher at William E. Hay Secondary Campus

VIDEO: 17 COVID-19 cases in central Alberta

March 23 update from Dr. Hinshaw

A message from Central Alberta Co-op

Statement submitted by Central Alberta Co-op

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

Fauci says coronavirus deaths in US could top 100,000

“We’re going to have millions of cases”

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

Thousands have already lost their jobs, while others like grocers look for ways to keep doors open

Big Oil’s interest in renewable energy investments expected to waver: report

Suncor announced it would cut its 2020 capital budget by 26 per cent in response to lower oil prices

Tokyo Olympics: Signs suggest summer dates for 2021 Olympics

Organizing committee suggested there would be no major change from 2020.

Most Read