Although some would ask why anyone would choose to text message a 9-1-1 emergency call, this choice may present itself as logical to someone lost in the bush, or to a disoriented out-of-bounds skier. Often, there isn’t enough cellular strength to make a phone call, yet there is enough to send a text.
However, the RCMP would like to remind residents and visitors to the Southeast District that 9-1-1 emergency calls cannot be received via a text message as the equipment to receive texts isn’t available at the 9-1-1 Centre located in Kelowna.
So, how do you summon help when in distress in the backcountry?
“Any way you can,” advises Corporal Dan Moskaluk, senior media relations officer for the Southeast District RCMP. “Texting directly to 9-1-1 won’t get you in touch with emergency response, but a text to an emergency contact person, who in turn could relay the info to authorities, would be a good practice if you end up in a spot where you have cell contact,” he says.
“People should always include an emergency contact name and number who they’ll try and reach in case of an emergency, or a person who would make note of a lack of expected communication who in turn could notify authorities to report anyone missing.”
“If in cell range and you have power, a phone call to 9-1-1 will summon help if the phone is operational,” Moskaluk continues. “With spotty service a person would be playing it safe to text a personal emergency contact in addition to calling 9-1-1.”
When heading out into the backcountry, whether you’re expecting to stay near or go far, devising and discussing a pre-trip list that includes a safety plan and emergency contacts is a must in the event that something goes wrong.
“In B.C. we’re fortunate to have a vast amount of solid information from true experts on safety in the backcountry,” Moskaluk concludes. “Please plan your trips, tread safely and wisely in the backcountry.”
To learn more about backcountry planning visit: avalanche.ca