North Shore Rescue Team Society https://www.northshorerescue.com Just another WordPress site Mon, 15 Oct 2018 17:20:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 https://www.northshorerescue.com/drive/uploads/2018/05/cropped-nsr-favicon-32x32.png North Shore Rescue Team Society https://www.northshorerescue.com 32 32 Why it’s a Bad Idea to Get High in the Mountains https://www.northshorerescue.com/why-its-a-bad-idea-to-get-high-in-the-mountains/ Sun, 22 Jul 2018 01:17:12 +0000 https://www.northshorerescue.com/?p=5482 With cannabis legalization on the near horizon and a relatively recent proliferation of marijuana dispensaries in the lower mainland, there has never been more opportunity for generally law-abiding adults to openly experiment with marijuana. While I am not so naïve as to believe that legalization will substantially change the behaviors of the many individuals who […]

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With cannabis legalization on the near horizon and a relatively recent proliferation of marijuana dispensaries in the lower mainland, there has never been more opportunity for generally law-abiding adults to openly experiment with marijuana. While I am not so naïve as to believe that legalization will substantially change the behaviors of the many individuals who already consume cannabis, with legitimacy comes the opportunity for those once inhibited by the specter of criminal prosecution to ascend from the proverbial dark basement, into the light of day.

In this environment of legitimacy, one can expect to see social media influencers and entrepreneurs alike, openly selling or promoting experiences that mesh with the psychoactive effects of marijuana. Within the constraints of provincial regulation and local bylaws, there is no doubt that this could be a lucrative opportunity. While running a business that pairs marijuana with other commercial activities (like painting, pottery, meditation, floating, etc.) may still earn the owner a knock on the door by the police or, once legalized, a bylaws officer, the reality is that there is now a space for the normalization of consumption and experimentation with cannabis in the public realm.

In fact, on July 18, the Georgia Straight ran an article titled The roots and reinvention of cannabis-enhanced yoga, written by Piper Courtenay, which primarily speaks to the benefits of cannabis when paired with meditation. When done safely and responsibly in a private residence, a beach, or otherwise within the confines of civilization, this may be a terrific enhancement.

Clearly, NSR takes no position on consumption or experimentation with cannabis as it relates to peoples private lives, so long as it is done responsibly and safely.

That being said, we do take a position on consumption and experimentation with cannabis, and other drugs, including alcohol, when it is done in the mountains. Thus comes, my point. This is a quote from that same article:

For those who are uncomfortable with experimentation, Flower and Freedom, a Vancouver-based cannabis lifestyle brand, offers consumption-free consumer education through yoga and fitness.

Cannabis-curious attendees participate in classes and outdoor excursions, like hiking and snowshoeing, led by health ambassadors who discuss their personal experience with pot. Although they don’t facilitate or provide cannabis, attendees are welcome to explore personal use.

A quick look at the Flower and Freedom website finds an article with the following, face-palm worthy, headline: “Outdoor Adventure Cannabis Tours Are Coming to Vancouver”.

There is no safe way to experiment with drugs in the mountains while “hiking and snowshoeing”, guided or not. Putting aside the legalities of potentially commercial guided hikes in provincial and regional parks, the combination of mind-altering drugs and being in the wilderness is a terrible and dangerous idea.

North Shore Rescue, and other SAR teams in this province has enough trouble with unprepared hikers flocking to the North Shore Mountains. We regularly respond to calls for those who are well prepared, do everything right, are completely sober, and still get into trouble. Being in the mountains is worthwhile, but it comes with significant risks, which can be reduced through fitness (including being clear-headed) and preparation.

When you’re high in the mountains, and I don’t mean elevation wise, you shift your position on the continuum between “Prepared Hiker” and “Candidate for Rescue” significantly towards the latter position.

Some may think that our concerns are abstract and without basis; the reality is that we have significant experience with rescues caused by all forms of intoxication, including marijuana. Below is a quick summary of the most recent rescues/recoveries, which I can recall off the top of my head, that were caused by intoxication:

  1.  On Cypress, a young hiker decided to take Acid while hiking with friends, had a bad trip, and required medical assistance and evacuation. Unfortunately, weather prevented helicopter access, so this was a primarily ground-based operation, and delayed the response by hours.
  2. Two individuals went snowshoe camping on Mount Seymour and at some point in the night, they consumed marijuana and ecstasy. One of the campers had a psychotic episode and stabbed his friend with a bowie knife, while his friend returned the favour. The RCMP emergency response team responded with our members and both snowshoers were arrested and taken to the hospital.
  3. On Cypress, a snowshoer consumed edible marijuana, had a seizure, and required intubation and ventilation while being evacuated. No other drugs were found in their system.
  4. Near Lions Bay, a hiker had consumed mushrooms and marijuana, and while going to urinate, fell 60 meters into a ravine. He sustained a serious head injury and had to be evacuated by helicopter long line.
  5. Two young people left a bar on Burnaby Mountain and were heavily intoxicated with alcohol. They decided to take a shortcut down the mountain through the woods. They both fell to their deaths.

The actual list would be substantially longer if it included historical calls and those of our neighboring SAR teams.

The mountains are not the place to lose yourself in a drug-induced stupor, nor are they a place to experiment and learn your tolerance. The reality we face is that the wilderness is unforgiving and it can take a long time for rescue crews to reach you, even if you are only a couple kilometers up the trail.

This is our plea to everyone to be responsible in the mountains, and leave the weed at home, even if it is eventually legal.

Please visit our education page and www.adventuresmart.ca for information on how to stay safe when you head into the mountains.

Disclaimer: North Shore Rescue does not have, nor will we have a position on the legality or use of cannabis. This is for our elected officials to determine, and we will only take a position with respect to safety concerns, which may relate to the use of cannabis. For clarity, Cannabis remains illegal, and will not be legal until the projected date of October 17, 2018. Please visit the Government of Canada website which outlines the federal timelines and rules for cannabis legalization.

 

Photo Credit: NSR Member Scott Merriman
Gif Source: https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/facepalm

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It’s Time for a Chat Metro Vancouver – 6 Tips to Avoid Becoming Our Next Customer https://www.northshorerescue.com/its-time-for-a-chat-metro-vancouver-6-tips-to-avoid-becoming-our-next-customer/ Sun, 03 Jun 2018 18:56:50 +0000 https://www.northshorerescue.com/?p=5452 The Chat As we continue to transition between seasons on the mountains, the number and types of calls North Shore Rescue responds to change as well. Lengthening daylight hours, warm temperatures in the city, and the appearance of snowmelt on the visible parts of the North Shore Mountains tend to call people to the outdoors […]

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The Chat

As we continue to transition between seasons on the mountains, the number and types of calls North Shore Rescue responds to change as well. Lengthening daylight hours, warm temperatures in the city, and the appearance of snowmelt on the visible parts of the North Shore Mountains tend to call people to the outdoors in droves. Frankly, this is an understandable phenomenon after a long rainy Vancouver winter. We have some pretty amazing places for summer hikers to visit, and some pretty amazing vistas to be had. That said, it is not summer on the mountains and to assume such can be a fatal mistake!

…it is not summer on the mountains…

However, just because the weather is changing to favour the cotton t-shirt over Gortex jackets, does not mean we get to be complacent in the mountains. Just the other day I went hiking up Mount Seymour and was astounded by both the sheer number of people up there and the proportion of those people leaving the parking lot wholly unprepared for the prevailing conditions. It would not be an understatement to say that pool of potential search and rescue customers was expansive. This is, unfortunately, pretty much standard every sunny day on the local mountains.

I want to state this clearly, the second you leave the parking lot, you can no longer rely on being able to call 911 and have a paramedic, police officer or firefighter at your side in moments. The mountains are dangerous, and they have taken many lives over the years both close to and far away from the parking lot. Stating this is not intended to discourage people from getting out there, but to highlight how important preparedness is in doing so. Although no amount of preparation can eliminate risk, it can significantly reduce it, and vastly increase your chances of avoiding becoming our customer…and even if you do end up needing our services, that same preparation can help to make sure we get you out alive.

In recent days I have been seeing an increase in the number of pictures being posted on social media showing mountain destinations during the summer months. This, unfortunately, is highly and unintentionally misleading. For instance, this photograph shows the popular destination of Saint Marks summit in what appear to be perfect conditions. The problem, the entire route to Saint Marks remains covered in snow. To compound this, rising temperatures mean that much of this snow is undercut creating the potential to fall through into deep crevices. Obviously attempting this trail in running shoes and a t-shirt would be a tremendous and potentially fatal error.

This “Social Media Effect” has very real-world consequences in that it normalizes heading into the mountains like it is a simple trip to the local gym. In fact, last night NSR crews responded to a call on Dog Mountain for an unprepared, dehydrated, and exhausted lost hiker. This individual’s situation was the epitome of Murphy’s Law, everything that could go wrong did go wrong for her. In this case, the lost hiker was abandoned by her hiking group, she was wearing street shoes with light workout clothing only, and she immediately lost the trail trying to make the way out on her own. To her credit, she made the decision to call for rescue relatively early, allowing our members to find her with relative ease and safety.

That said, when our crews arrived on the scene, the subject was so unprepared, exhausted and dehydrated, there came a point in the hike out where it became necessary to piggyback the subject. This, of course, makes our rescue efforts more difficult in terms of the time it takes us away from our families and paying work, but also increases the risk of injury to our own members. The reality is that preparation also helps protect our crews if you do ultimately need our services (which we gladly provide in all circumstances).

To temper my Murphy’s Law reference, I will say that this subject got very lucky in a number of respects:

  • She did not injure herself (as she could have succumbed to hypothermia);
  • She was able to make a 911 call (as there is no telling when her absence would have been reported if there had been no cell coverage); and
  • Rescue crews were able to get to her relatively quickly, which is not always the case.

This is not to single out a single rescue subject for ridicule but to highlight a teachable moment which is exemplified by these circumstances. Preparation is important, and this particular subject is one of a great majority of mountain users who head out unprepared every day. For instance, just two weeks ago our team responded to a call for 4 unprepared hikers on Mount Seymour which nearly resulted in a very sad outcome (see Global News Coverage). While originally departing for Dog Mountain, again prepared for a summer walk in a city park, the group ended up stranded in deep snow, above cliff bands, near the First Pump of Mount Seymour.

Alright, to recap, so far we have established that:

  • there are a lot of people heading out unprepared under false impressions or naive of the risks;
  • that your risk increases exponentially when you head out unprepared;
  • that relying on social media portrayals of popular hiking destinations is dangerous;
  • that being unprepared can increase the risk to rescue crews if you do ultimately need our help;
  • that the mountains are responsible for many fatalities, and many near misses; and
  • luckily that proper preparation and training can mitigate these risks substantially

So then, when you (or your family member/friend/colleague/acquaintance/neighbour/frenemy that you share this with) head out, how can you reduce your risk of becoming our customer, and/or dying?

1. Research the route and make a plan

Don’t rely on word of mouth or social media posts for your planning. Make sure you know the route, the weather, the risks, and what you need to take with you well before you get to the trailhead. This step can also help you determine if you are mentally and physically prepared for the undertaking. If you aren’t quite ready for what you want to do, it makes sense to pick easier routes while training and conditioning to get to the point where you can head out safely.

If you lack the equipment or are not prepared for a particular hike, DON’T DO IT. You can always seek help from a more experienced friend, join a hiking club,  or head down to Mountain Equipment Co-op for advice. Likewise, if the conditions are not looking good, reschedule it.

Ultimately, the more time you spend on planning, the easier the actual hike will be in terms of navigation (it is important to stay on route and follow the trail), and if you do ultimately end up getting into trouble, a detailed plan left with someone responsible will make it a lot easier for us to find you.

Resources:

2. Tell someone responsible where you are going

This one may not keep you from becoming a customer, but it will definitely increase your chances of being found alive if something goes wrong. Furthermore, it is free, quick and should be done every time you head into the mountains, no matter how mundane the trip. Many people have died on the North Shore Mountains because their absence went unreported and/or no one knew where they went.

You cannot count on cell phones or other electronics in the mountains, but you can always count on a reliable person who knows where you are going, and when to expect you back. Failing to do this simple task not only increases your chances of not making it out alive, but it also increases the risk to searchers who must spend more time on unfocused searching looking for you.

3. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear

This one should be self-explanatory but unfortunately seems to be one of the most common mistakes made every day on the local mountains. If you want to be a candidate for the Darwin awards, definitely wear a cotton t-shirt and flip-flops, sandals, or street shoes. If you would rather enjoy a nice hike in the woods where you get home safely, then this is definitely the right place to spend a little bit of cash.

Anything other than a hiking boot or trail runner, with a proper aggressive tread and ankle support, are not appropriate for the trails. Similarly, cotton or denim clothing is almost never appropriate beyond the parking lot. While sporting wear is fine, it is important to layer and have something warm to wear if you do become injured or stuck and cannot keep moving. It can get cold up there, even in the middle of summer.

Head down to your local outdoor store (ie. MEC) and get the right footwear, and the right clothing. The reality is that improper footwear, no matter your experience or other preparation, is a sure fire way to end up as a North Shore Rescue customer.

4. Take the 10 Essentials

This is another one that will both decrease your chances of getting to hang out with me or my colleagues, or you know, not making it back at all. Quite frankly, you should have a small backpack no matter how simple the hike, and in this backpack, you should have the following:

  1. Flashlight
  2. Fire making kit
  3. Signalling device (i.e. whistle)
  4. Extra food and water
  5. Extra clothing (Warm Clothing)
  6. Navigational/communication devices (GPS, Map & Compass, Satellite Communications Device, Cell Phone)
  7. First aid kit
  8. Emergency blanket/shelter
  9. Pocket knife
  10. Sun protection

You do not need to break the bank to kit yourself out with most of the above. Just like a skier has to have skis and boots to hit the slopes, you need some variant of this gear to hit the trails.

Do not plan for the best case scenario, plan for the worst case (ie. a broken ankle out of cellphone range). You would be shocked how many calls NSR responds to for stranded hikers who are lost because they don’t have a flashlight… This one personally drives me absolutely nuts. PS your cellphone is not a sufficient flashlight!

Head to our 10 Essentials Page or the Adventure Smart website for more information on what you should be taking with you when you head into the woods.

5. Travel in a group and stay together

Travelling alone in the mountains is generally a bad idea, with some rare exceptions. If you fall or have a medical emergency, if you are by yourself there is a good chance no one will be able to assist you. Similarly, it is nice to be able to share the load and to be able to discuss route finding with someone.

When you do travel in a group, you should travel at the speed of the slowest group member, and you should only split up in the rarest of circumstances. This is a common mistake we see where the faster more experienced member of the group “takes off”, and the slower member suffers a medical emergency or becomes lost. Please communicate with your group, and set realistic goals!

6. If you aren’t prepared, turn around early!

This one should be self-explanatory, but clearly, it isn’t. If at any time, including at the parking lot, it becomes clear that you are unprepared for the conditions, TURN AROUND! This is a critical part of risk management that seems to be forgotten quite often. Things change from the planning stage, and those changes should be taken into account when deciding to move forward. There are always easier, safer options to fall back upon. So if you find yourself in sneakers on a snowy trail, slipping and falling, getting further and further from the parking lot, this is the time to check yourself and save yourself some pain and embarrassment.

Remember, there is no prize for pushing on in the face of dangerous conditions and unpreparedness…except for maybe a Darwin Award.

No Charge for Rescue

North Shore Rescue strictly does not support fines or charging victims for rescue services. Inevitably, any time we or the media highlight mistakes made by those we rescue we see a slew of uninformed calls to punish and take retribution on the unlucky victim. We do not highlight these mistakes to feed this rage, we do it in the hopes that even one person reads about someone else’s folly, and makes a good decision that keeps them out of trouble. We truly believe that outdoor pursuits have a strong positive benefit to society, and our intent is not to discourage people from getting out there. We wouldn’t volunteer to do this if we didn’t think it was worthwhile. What we do want to do is to help people do it safely and in a way that reduces the amount of time we have to spend away from our families, our paying jobs, and our own pursuits.

With that in mind, please read this post objectively, internalize the lessons, and pass them on where you can. Education is the keystone to Search and Rescue prevention, not punishment or deterrence. The latter approaches although satisfying our carnal need to take a pound of flesh from wrongdoers, in reality only lead to delays which increase the risk to the victims and the rescuers, with no discernable offset of the already minimal cost to the taxpayer.

In other words, put away the pitch forks and help us spread the safety messaging.

See Not Charging For Rescue

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Qualicum Beach Mutual Aid https://www.northshorerescue.com/qualicum-beach-mutual-aid/ Sun, 03 Jun 2018 00:25:14 +0000 https://www.northshorerescue.com/?p=5443 This afternoon the NSR Helicopter External Transport (HEC) team responded to the Qualicum Beach area of Vancouver Island to assist Comox Valley Search and Rescue with a mutual aid longline evacuation of an injured hiker. The 36-year-old hiker sustained multiple serious injuries, and upon Comox Search and Rescue stabilizing and packaging the patient, the decision was […]

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This afternoon the NSR Helicopter External Transport (HEC) team responded to the Qualicum Beach area of Vancouver Island to assist Comox Valley Search and Rescue with a mutual aid longline evacuation of an injured hiker. The 36-year-old hiker sustained multiple serious injuries, and upon Comox Search and Rescue stabilizing and packaging the patient, the decision was made that a helicopter longline extraction was the optimal form of transportation for the subject.

The 3 member NSR HEC team departed from our Cap Gate helicopter base on board a Talon Helicopters‘ aircraft. Upon arrival at the scene, they worked with Comox SAR personnel to extract the subject to waiting BC Ambulance Service paramedics at a nearby landing zone.

Great inter-agency cooperation and good weather made for a straightforward, albeit technical operation with a successful outcome.

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North Shore Rescue is recruiting new members! Deadline June 4. https://www.northshorerescue.com/north-shore-rescue-is-recruiting-new-members-deadline-june-4/ Tue, 15 May 2018 21:45:00 +0000 https://www.northshorerescue.com/?p=5430 North Shore Rescue is now taking applications for membership for the 2018 season. Have you thought about applying to join the team before? If so, now might be your opportunity. If you have a strong sense of commitment to the idea of joining North Shore Rescue, the requisite knowledge of the North Shore trails and […]

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North Shore Rescue is now taking applications for membership for the 2018 season. Have you thought about applying to join the team before? If so, now might be your opportunity. If you have a strong sense of commitment to the idea of joining North Shore Rescue, the requisite knowledge of the North Shore trails and wilderness, and extensive outdoor recreation experience, we look forward to hearing from you!

Joining North Shore Rescue is a tough and long (but rewarding!) process. It consists of two years of weekly training (with the exception of between June and August, when call volumes skyrocket), while also responding to tasks as a field team member (don’t worry, you will be with experienced members).  Furthermore, Members-in-Training (“MIT”s) will participate in numerous additional training courses and exercises, fundraising and social event attendance, along with maintaining 80% or higher call-out and training attendance.

Over the summer, new MITs are expected to assist with the daily closing sweep of the Grouse Grind at least once or twice a week. Our training calendar officially kicks off starting the first week of September. It is especially critical that you are present during training for your tenure as a Member-in-Training.

For a full list of requirements and information regarding the application, please see our Membership page.

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Annual Helicopter Rescue Recertification https://www.northshorerescue.com/annual-helicopter-rescue-recertification/ Sat, 12 May 2018 17:03:48 +0000 https://www.northshorerescue.com/?p=5329 This last April members of North Shore Rescue’s Human External Cargo* (“HEC”) team attended their annual recertification in the Pemberton Valley along with Talon Helicopters, our team’s primary air carrier.  Although members of the HEC team train much more than annually, the team puts on this workshop to ensure that all team members are current […]

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This last April members of North Shore Rescue’s Human External Cargo* (“HEC”) team attended their annual recertification in the Pemberton Valley along with Talon Helicopters, our team’s primary air carrier.  Although members of the HEC team train much more than annually, the team puts on this workshop to ensure that all team members are current on the equipment and the various techniques related to being a HEC technician.

At the recertification, members spent the entire day working around, and under, the helicopter utilizing our Transport Canada approved HEC kits. The evenings and mornings were filled with lectures and skill stations. This is, in essence, a three-day immersion to ensure top performance and consistency between members.

During this recertification, members were also required to review and practice critical medical skills related to working as an HEC tech. These skills included the use of the AutoPulse (automated CPR device), CPR/AED, bleeding control techniques, splinting, and patient packaging.

* The HEC system allows up to 1100 lbs to be flown into or out of the field on a line suspended below the helicopter. This versatile system allows flexibility in aircraft configuration between the search phase and rescue phase, providing a fast and safe way of inserting personnel into remote locations and extracting the same.

What follows is a gallery of various pictures from the recertification course:

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The Passing of a Hero – Mike Dal Santo (October 23, 1952 – March 12, 2018) https://www.northshorerescue.com/the-passing-of-a-hero-team-member-mike-dal-santo-october-23-1952-march-12-2018/ Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:13:51 +0000 https://www.northshorerescue.com/?p=5311 It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of long time team member, Mike Dal Santo. Mike was born on October 23, 1952 in Surrey, BC, and while working for Telus as a software developer, joined North Shore Rescue as a active field member in 2000. In his long service with our […]

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It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of long time team member, Mike Dal Santo. Mike was born on October 23, 1952 in Surrey, BC, and while working for Telus as a software developer, joined North Shore Rescue as a active field member in 2000. In his long service with our organization, in addition to heading out into the mountains to save lives, Mike sat on a number of important committees, maintained our organizations critical equipment (including keeping our numerous AED’s and defibrillators operational), and was a key member of our organizations trail marking program. It is hard to put into words the magnitude of Mike’s service.

To say that Mike was integral to North Shore Rescue would be an understatement. In remembering Mike’s contribution, the most fitting title for this wonderful human being would be North Shore Rescue’s Silent Hero. That is, Mike preferred to work in the background, without overt recognition, supporting both the organization and his fellow members.

This, however, does not mean that his significant contributions were not recognized by his peers and experienced by those we serve. In addition to his role as an active field member, as previously mentioned, he took on substantial projects that allowed the team to operate at the professional level we do. These projects spanned the operational, administrative, and prevention roles that are essential for NSR’s mandate. His contribution has been monumental.

Mike will be missed for his unwavering passion, his inherently caring nature, and the tremendous friend that he was to his fellow members. He was truly a professional rescuer that dedicated his life to the service of others. He will be sorely missed by his family, his friends, his teammates and the community that he served.

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Thank You – Significant Donation of Medical Equipment https://www.northshorerescue.com/thank-you-significant-donation-of-medical-equipment/ Sun, 25 Feb 2018 16:54:59 +0000 https://www.northshorerescue.com/?p=5296 Recently NSR received a very generous donation of medical equipment from the family of the late Lise Marie Claudette Tompson-Cyr (February 25, 1959 – July 31, 2015). We were honoured to receive a number of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) along with other medical equipment used in remote industrial settings.  This equipment will be put to use in supporting […]

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Recently NSR received a very generous donation of medical equipment from the family of the late Lise Marie Claudette Tompson-Cyr (February 25, 1959 – July 31, 2015). We were honoured to receive a number of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) along with other medical equipment used in remote industrial settings.  This equipment will be put to use in supporting NSR’s mission in training and where applicable, operationally.

By way of background, Ms. Tompson-Cyr was a strong business leader and feminist who supported the advancement of woman, especially so in the resource sector. In this, she was a pioneer in the resource industry, with her goal being to ensure a safe work site for those working in remote locations.

Ms. Tompson-Cyr was recognized in her decoration of the David Barr award in safety in 2016.

We are proud to be the recipients of a part of the large legacy she leaves behind, and are sure that this equipment will continue to assist in saving lives for years to come.

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Is It Safe? https://www.northshorerescue.com/is-it-safe/ Fri, 26 Jan 2018 00:55:00 +0000 https://www.northshorerescue.com/?p=5268 We get this question on a fairly regular basis, and so we thought we would write a blog post in an attempt to answer it. During the winter months, avalanche danger fluctuates from high to low, and outdoor recreationists wonder what is a safe day trip and what is not. The 3 factors that contribute […]

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We get this question on a fairly regular basis, and so we thought we would write a blog post in an attempt to answer it.

During the winter months, avalanche danger fluctuates from high to low, and outdoor recreationists wonder what is a safe day trip and what is not.

The 3 factors that contribute to avalanche danger are: snowpack, terrain, and weather. If you have no snow, or a solid snowpack, danger is low. If the terrain is not avalanche terrain, meaning it is a low angled slope (below 25 degrees) and does not have avalanche terrain above it, then the danger is low. Weather also contributes to danger via wind, snow, and changing temperatures.

Many recreationists do not know if they are in avalanche terrain and many do not know how to evaluate the snowpack. As well, many people do not know how weather affects the avalanche risk. Avalanche Canada puts out danger bulletins but these are for a large general area and local conditions can vary widely.


A few select trails on the North Shore are generally ok to hike with elevated avalanche danger – obviously lower elevation hikes with no snow, and a few others. However, it is hard to say a particular trail is unconditionally SAFE. For example, a trail might head up beside a ski run. Most of the trail beside the ski run has low avalanche danger – it is travelled a lot and the ski runs are monitored by avalanche professionals. However, even a very small slide could carry you over a cliff or into a tree causing trauma. As well, if we go through a large storm cycle, and the trail becomes loaded with a large amount of fresh snow ready to slide, avalanche danger can go from low to high in a matter of hours. So is that trail really safe?

So when people ask, “Is it safe?” the answer is, well maybe, maybe not – what is your definition of “safe”? An avalanche profesional may be totally comfortable operating in High avalanche danger in the backcountry as this person knows how to avoid avalanche terrain and considers this “safe.” Other people with lower levels of training would not be able to travel through the terrain safely.

If you are recreating in the backcountry in the snow then you should take an avalanche course.

Let me rephrase that – if you are recreating in the backcountry in the snow you definitely need to take an avalanche course.

 

There was a tragic rescue in 2017 of 5 snowshoers who died after a cornice collapse on Mt. Harvey. I don’t recall the avalanche danger rating that day – but the real danger was potential cornice collapses – which is something that is covered in avalanche courses.

So the question “Is it safe?” is something that is very challenging to answer for organizations like NSR. The other issue is if we say yes this trail is safe, but then someone trips on a slippery section and breaks their ankle, suddenly we could be liable and the trail was not actually “safe”. When someone emails us, we have no idea if someone has never walked on snow in their life – or if they have spent their entire life in the mountains.

Nature is dynamic and conditions change all the time. The best way to answer these questions is to take an Avalanche Canada course or courses, find some experienced people to go out with, hire an ACMG guide once or twice a year to lead a group and provide some instruction, and read some books, such as Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. The Internet helps, and online groups help, but you also need to be careful with some of this advice, as you do not always know the experience level of the person providing it.

The AST 1 course is the recreational avalanche course where you should start. AST 2 is next, then you can start looking at CAA Level 1 and other related courses. They offer snowshoeing, skiing, and sledding related courses.

Go to: http://www.avalanche.ca/training/courses and sign up for a course today. It may save your life, or your friends life. Plus it’s a super fun weekend.

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Celebration of Life – Jay Piggot https://www.northshorerescue.com/celebration-of-life-jay-piggot/ Sun, 10 Dec 2017 18:44:28 +0000 https://www.northshorerescue.com/?p=5229 Jay Morgan Piggot (North Shore 43) – May 14, 1981 to December 5, 2017 To honour the life of Jay Piggot a public celebration of life will be held on December 18, 2017 at the Capilano Rugby Club . The ceremony will begin at 1:00 PM sharp. Light refreshments will be provided and it is recommended […]

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Jay Morgan Piggot (North Shore 43) – May 14, 1981 to December 5, 2017

To honour the life of Jay Piggot a public celebration of life will be held on December 18, 2017 at the Capilano Rugby Club . The ceremony will begin at 1:00 PM sharp. Light refreshments will be provided and it is recommended that attendees arrive early.

Please note that this ceremony will be indoor / outdoor, utilizing the field area of the Rugby Club. Although there will be tents and heaters set up for attendees, please dress accordingly with layers of warm clothing.

While this is not a line of duty memorial, any emergency services personnel and members of other uniformed services, are asked to attend in uniform.

In lieu of flowers please consider making a contribution to the Fundrazr Page to support Jay’s children.

 

Media Coverage:

 

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How Social Media Can Save Lives https://www.northshorerescue.com/how-social-media-can-save-lives/ Wed, 29 Nov 2017 21:23:42 +0000 https://www.northshorerescue.com/?p=5204 Social media as a tool for Search and Rescue (SAR) has become increasingly valuable. SAR teams can communicate with the public and media via their social channels to provide information and updates. Social media is being used to garner tips from the public to aid in searching for lost persons and has helped North Shore […]

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Social media as a tool for Search and Rescue (SAR) has become increasingly valuable. SAR teams can communicate with the public and media via their social channels to provide information and updates. Social media is being used to garner tips from the public to aid in searching for lost persons and has helped North Shore Rescue and other SAR teams on various occasions narrow the search area.

There is also huge value in raising awareness and providing educational tips to the public via social media. Education is part of our mission — and this is done through presentations, traditional media, and now social media. SAR teams, AdventureSmart BC, and Avalanche Canada all use social media to provide safety tips and condition updates for the public.

As we enter this year’s winter season, we plan to continue using social media, and particularly Facebook, to engage with the public. Facebook posts have an extremely broad reach and are very efficient at amplifying and distributing our message and interacting with our followers.

We are asking our friends, fans, family, and followers to help us grow our Facebook subscribers by encouraging them to invite their friends to like our page located here. 

You may also notice that NSR is amplifying or promoting our Facebook page. The advertising dollars and time spent on the campaign are donated by 6S Marketing — so no funds donated to NSR are being used for these sorts of campaigns.

Since the ‘Facebook Like Drive’ campaign started two weeks ago, we have grown our Facebook fan base by almost 10% and now have 15,000+ page likes. Our goal is to reach 50,000 page likes by the end of the ski season (which is an ambitious goal).

We need your help to achieve this goal as it cannot be done through advertising alone. Please invite your adventurous and outdoorsy friends to like the North Shore Rescue Facebook Page

Also, please consider following us on Instagram and Twitter as we share news updates, photos, and videos on these channels as well.

The more followers we have, the faster we can share information that may aid in getting the tip that points us in the right direction and allow us to find someone lost. And at the very least — we can keep you updated on our searches and will provide some useful safety tips.

Finally, if you are in an area outside of the North Shore and Vancouver proper, follow your local Search and Rescue team’s social media accounts.

Here are a few Facebook pages of Search and Rescue teams that are around Vancouver:

Go to www.bcsara.com/sar-groups/map/ – find your local Search and Rescue team and follow their social media accounts.

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