An emergency call from a lost camper in the North Okanagan turned into a three-day search.
While the search had a fortunate ending, the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP hopes it will serve as a lesson in backcountry preparedness.
At approximately 9 p.m. on Friday, June 19, Vernon police received a call from a camper who had become disoriented in thick brush and needed help returning to their campsite.
The camper was unfamiliar with the area and could only provide a general location of where they had set up camp before setting out on foot.
Without specific location details, officers attended to the general area to patrol and sound the police siren. Unfortunately, police dispatch was unable to maintain contact with the caller’s cellphone to assist with triangulating a location.
The search went on for the next three days.
Police were assisted by volunteers from Vernon Search and Rescue, the RCMP Police Dog Services Section and RCMP Air Services to conduct a thorough search of the area in an attempt to locate the missing camper.
On Monday afternoon, the campsite was spotted by a police helicopter conducting patrols of the area.
The missing camper was found safe, at which point they told officers they had been unable to update police that they no longer required assistance because their cellphone had lost battery power.
“Numerous police resources are dedicated to these types of calls for assistance. This is a good reminder for people using the back country to ensure they provide details of where they will be to a family or friends,” media relations officer Cpl. Tania Finn said.
“It is very fortunate that this incident was able to resolve itself and the camper found their way safely back to their campsite. However, had we had information on where the campsite was located, this could have been resolved within a few hours of police being called.”
To enjoy the backcountry with personal safety in mind, Finn said it’s important to research your route, plan where you will be camping and hiking, share your plan with friends or family members, be prepared for accidents and have ‘just in case’ items including warm clothing, extra water and a portable cellphone charger.