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1 December 2008 Epidemiology of Mountain Search and Rescue Operations in Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks, 2003–06
Finlay J. Wild
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Objective.—To describe the epidemiology of mountain incidents and mountain rescue operations occurring in Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2006.

Methods.—Retrospective review of Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay Public Safety Occurrence Reports detailing rescue operations within the study period. Demographics, activity, reason for rescue, mode of rescue, type of injury, and fatalities were analyzed.

Results.—A total of 317 emergency mountain rescue operations involving 406 persons was documented. The mean age of the rescued population was 35.2 years, and this population was predominantly male (63.1%). Hikers were involved in 43.5% of incidents, and ‘slips and falls’ were responsible for 50.2%. Helicopter was the mode of rescue in 64% of cases. Almost half (40.7%) of all rescues involved people with no injuries. The limbs were the most common body part affected (68% of traumatic injuries). Forty fatalities occurred—45% due to avalanches and 27.5% due to slips and falls.

Conclusions.—This study offers a synopsis of the rescue service provided by Parks Canada Rescue in the study area. Further work is needed to separate primary and contributory causes of mountain incidents, and this can be achieved by use of better data collection methods. Hospital follow-up is required to accurately assess the morbidity and mortality associated with mountain incidents. Data presented are expected to be of value to a variety of tourism, health, and safety organizations.

Finlay J. Wild "Epidemiology of Mountain Search and Rescue Operations in Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks, 2003–06," Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 19(4), 245-251, (1 December 2008).
Published: 1 December 2008

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accident prevention
backcountry medicine
climbing injuries
orthopedic injuries
search and rescue
sports injuries
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