RCMP in the Northwest Territories urged people heading into the territory’s wilderness to plan ahead, claiming unnecessary search missions are costing “countless resources.”

In a news release issued last week, police said people failing to properly communicate their plans were responsible for triggering false alarms and costly search and rescue operations.

RCMP said anyone heading out should have at least one communication device, tell people about their trip beforehand, establish a schedule for checking in with friends, and abide by it.

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“In recent history the Northwest Territories RCMP have responded to several calls for service where a search and rescue operation had to be initiated when, in fact, no one was actually missing or requiring immediate aid,” said Sgt Christina Wilkins, the territory’s emergency management and planning coordinator.

“In every case these boiled down to travellers not properly applying or implementing their communications plan.

“In every search and rescue countless resources are deployed. In situations where these end up as a false alarm, we can state with certainty that these resources could have been better used elsewhere.”

Police did not place a value on the cost of unnecessary search and rescue missions so far this year. In July, a genuine search operation in Norman Wells was reported to have cost the local search and rescue volunteers alone at least $10,000.

“On a whole, search and rescue events are very costly, not just for the RCMP and the government, but also for volunteer organizations and the local communities,” read a police statement.

“The RCMP encourage everyone to do their part with respect to emergency preparedness when venturing into the great outdoors.”