During the first six months of the year, search and rescue calls in the Sooke Region increased sharply compared to the same period last year, according to Juan de Fuca Ground Search and Rescue.
The local search and rescue team responded to 25 calls up to the end of June, a steep increase from 2019 when crews answered 30 calls for the entire year.
Search and rescue groups on the ground have responded to more than 700 calls across B.C. since January.
“We believe a contributing factor is COVID-19. However, we believe that in general (without COVID19), our numbers would be up,” said Vickie Weber, senior search and rescue manager for Juan de Fuca Ground Search and Rescue.
But while search and rescue operations are up across the province, so is funding.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the province has committed $6 million to 79 search and rescue groups every year beginning in 2022.
The funding is in addition to the $10 million B.C. provides each year for search-related operational costs.
“Search and rescue volunteers take a risk every time they go out to rescue someone, and that risk is heightened due to COVID-19,” Farnworth said.
“I’m calling on all British Columbians to be safe and to make sure your family, friends, and neighbours are being safe so that we can reduce the risks for everyone.”