Summer a quiet one for Coquitlam search team

Despite being called out one more time on Labour Day, marking the unofficial end to the season, summer proved to be fairly quiet for Coquitlam Search and Rescue.
While Coquitlam SAR has logged the average number of calls for the year, the call volumes for the summer months for local rescues have been less than usual.  
“It’s been nice and quiet, how we like it sometimes,” said Coquitlam SAR manager Michael Coyle.
“It’s not a benefit for us to be rescuing people who are missing — [the lack of calls] is a good thing.”
So far this year, the team has been called out for 24 tasks, with half for mutual aid to other SAR teams.
The team usually gets called out for an average of 35 tasks a year.
On Monday, the team was called out to help an injured hiker at Buntzen Lake.
But most of the SAR team’s activities this summer have involved helping out other rescue groups in the region.
Coyle explained call volumes usually spike in the summer when the weather is better and more people are out in the backcountry.
He has no explanation for the slow season, but said he’s been with search and rescue long enough to know there can be long stretches without a rescue and then a bunch in one weekend.
“The challenge on our side is to not be complacent,” Coyle said.
Though fall usually signals a drop in calls, the change in weather can add challenges to rescues that are not typical of those in summer.
Coyle said the most common problem is people getting caught off guard by the shorter daylight hours and then the time change.
“It’s kind of a similar pattern every year, more [rescues] in the summer, less in the fall but the ones in fall can be complicated by colder weather and hypothermia,” he said.
So if you have plans to head out for a hike in the next few months before winter arrives, Coquitlam SAR has a couple of tips to stay safe.
Coyle said people need to be aware of the sunset and plan their travel time accordingly.
That also means taking along what are considered the 10 essentials, including a flashlight.
Coyle said there are a lot of cases where if people just had flashlights when they got into trouble, they could have walked out on their own.
And if things stay quiet in the local backcountry, it should give the team plenty of time to prepare for a big SAR conference next month.
The team is hosting SAREx Southwest (SARxSW), the first regional search and rescue conference for SAR groups on the south coast in 14 years.
In all, 20 agencies will be taking part in the weekend conference, starting Sept. 27, that will include field workshops held around Coquitlam.

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