Comox Valley Search and Rescue (CVSAR) teams responded to a record number of calls in 2020, the volunteer organization reported on Monday.
Sunday evening marked the 69th call for CVSAR, after the team was paged at 5:30 p.m. by Comox Valley RCMP.
RCMP informed CVSAR that a woman with dementia had gone missing. Mutual aid was requested from Campbell River Volunteer Search and Rescue Society and Arrowsmith Search and Rescue (Parksville/Qualicum).
38 searchers and two SAR K-9 units were able to locate the woman a significant distance from her residence after searching wooded areas, trails and properties. She was transported to hospital for assessment.
CVSAR say call volumes have been increasing over the decade across the province, with 1300 calls posted in 2019.
2020 has seen more than 1600 calls, and rescue teams say they have increased in complexity and often led to large-scale multi-day operations.
“Like [Sunday evening], these calls come most often when it is a dark and stormy night, when most people are at home, warm, safe and dry,” CVSAR wrote on their Facebook page.
“Our searchers leave their families, their places of work, their dinners, their birthdays, their anniversaries out of a commitment to help others.”
The volunteer team also says that they have seen an increase in calls to assist people who have ventured out unprepared or ill-equipped.
They say that would-be adventurers need to proceed into the outdoors with proper training, physical fitness, and essential equipment.
Outdoor enthusiasts should also leave a detailed trip plan with a loved one in the event of an emergency.
One tool recommended by CVSAR is the AdventureSmart Trip Planning App, which can be downloaded online.
They also suggest reading information online on trip and wilderness preparedness.