Popkum firefighters and Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue volunteers bring an injured person to a waiting Air Ambulance at Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park on July 14, 2019. (Photo KHSAR volunteer Ian Maslin)

Popkum firefighters and Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue volunteers bring an injured person to a waiting Air Ambulance at Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park on July 14, 2019. (Photo KHSAR volunteer Ian Maslin)

COVID-19 sparks busiest year on record for Kent-Harrison SAR

The search and rescue team responded to 68 incidents in 2020

The Kent Harrison Search and Rescue team had a record-setting year in 2020, with volunteers responding to 68 incidents over the course of the year.

According to a release from KHSAR, the high call volume was largely because of changes to summer activities caused by COVID-19.

“Travel restrictions caused many B.C. residents to ‘staycation,’ with many more than usual choosing to recreate in the backcountry,” the release reads.

This resulted in a number of calls for mutual assistance on Harrison Lake, as well as other incidents, including a treetop rescue on Mount Woodside in November.

RELATED: Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue saves paraglider in treetop rescue

The SAR group also responded to three fatalities throughout the year, less than the five fatalities reported in 2019.

RELATED: Body of Maple Ridge man recovered near Harrison Lake

The last year that rivalled 2020 for call volume was 2007, when the team responded to around 65 calls. The number of incidents decreased in 2008, and since then had rarely gone over 50. According to KHSAR manager Neil Brewer, there’s no clear indication why the numbers decreased in the 2010s, although there were fewer calls on Harrison Lake.

Kent Harrison SAR saw it’s busiest year ever in 2020. (Chart provided by Kent Harrison Search and Rescue)

Over the course of the year, KHSAR’s 27 members spent nearly 5,750 hours volunteering for the organization. The volunteers spent 2,566 hours responding to calls, 2,165 hours on training and 1,102 hours on maintenance, repairs and administration.

In 2021, the team will be welcoming five new members. They are currently undergoing core training and will be ready to respond to calls this spring.

In addition, KHSAR will be welcoming a new boat this year. The 26-foot Silver Streak landing craft will be replacing the team’s Shearwater, a 20-foot centre-console boat. The boat is meant to provide better access to shorelines, as well as a heated cabin.

The new boat was ordered in November 2020, and is estimated at $285,000. The boat will be delivered in June of this year. Once it is operational, the Shearwater will be sold.


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