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If you go into the woods today you better go well prepared



Whistler Search and Rescue seeing fewer calls as policy to leave lost, healthy skiers and boarders out overnight continues

Whistler Search and Rescues’ policy of leaving healthy lost skiers and boarders out overnight may be paying off.

This year call volume is down and WSR has only needed to respond to seven calls. Last year it’s estimated there were 12 calls for the same period.

"Part and parcel of what we are trying to promote here is don’t dial a rescue because if that is your back-up plan it’s a lousy one," said Brad Sills, search and rescue manager for WSR.

"We decided three years ago that we were going to start to interpret the requirements the RCMP have, which is that you have to be missing 24 hours in order to be a missing person."

Inside of that 24 hours rescue is only going to take place if the lost person is young, old, has a medical condition, is hurt, or is in danger. And it has to be relatively safe for the rescuers to go in after the lost person.

Sills is clear that Search and Rescue will always respond when needed. But he said going in after a skier who calls on a cell phone at dusk because he or she went out of bounds too late and they want a lift out is not an emergency.

"As far as you spending the night out that isn’t an emergency," he said.

"The skier may think it is an emergency, but let me put it this way: I have been doing this for 27 years and we have yet to have a case where people have succumbed, either through loss of limb or through death, to the elements.

"The chances of anyone being severely hurt from the elements through the night are very rare.

"So typically what (the lost person) will get is a little chat about what to do for the evening, such as stay dry, don’t move, get yourself under a tree, strip some boughs off, and move around through the night.

"Then in the morning we tell them to save their battery and don’t phone a whole bunch of people. Give us a buzz back and tell us what you see, where you are, and try to move to higher ground. Then we will come and get you."

Sills said that on any given Saturday WSR may field 20 cases, most of which WSR volunteers will not be called out for.

In fact if volunteers responded to every call no one would be available if a real emergency were to happen.