Wilderness rescues on the rise as pandemic drags on
INNISFIL, ONT. -- The great outdoors have become a popular destination as the pandemic drags on, but as lakes and trails become busier than ever, so are emergency crews.
"This year has certainly seen an increase of calls for services from our department," said Clearview Fire Department Chief Roree Payment. "Typically, we do two or three injured or missing hikers a year, and this year we've done 20."
According to Payment, more people from outside the area are heading to the trails, but most aren't necessarily equipped or familiar with the surroundings and often run into trouble.
"They come here from the GTA, but they really aren't 100 per cent sure of where they are, and they are not necessarily 100 per cent sure of what they might encounter," he said.
Dwayne Latondress, owner of Diverse Rentals and Vacations in Tiny Township, said visitors want to see all the Georgian Bay offers.
For years Latondress rented sleds. Now he's only offering guided tours with a maximum of 10 people.
"People were getting lost, and they were getting frustrated," he said. "It can get very confusing out in the bush if you're not used to it."
"The biggest thing that really determines how successful the outcome is is just how prepared the individuals that head out are," Payment adds.
The fire chief recommends always bringing a fully charged cell phone, tell someone where you intend to go and when you plan to return, and most importantly, dress for the weather conditions.