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Search and rescue crews warn about online-based groups

NORTH SHORE (NEWS1130) – North Shore Rescue dealt with an abnormal recovery over the weekend as a group that met online for a day hike became separated.

Group dynamics can break down in an instant, according to Tim Jones with the rescue team. He says that’s because people meeting through the Internet do not have strong personal relationships.

He notes his team has had trouble with Internet hiking groups in the past.

“With an online group where you haven’t gone with people before, you don’t know the different levels of fitness. The group dynamics are a concern for us with this online thing; they don’t know each other. [The dynamics] break down and that’s a bad sign.”

Over the weekend, an online hiking group became separated when six people left two others behind after one man suffered minor injury. The pair ended up lost trying to find their way out of the Lynn Headwaters area, and that’s when North Shore Rescue had to respond.

Jones urges people to stay together unless personal safety becomes detrimental.

“We’re not overly impressed with the group; the group dynamics really broke down and we really advocate that if you are hiking in a large group and someone does run into trouble, the group should stay together.”

Meeting for activities online through social media sites like Facebook and reddit are becoming more popular these days, especially for people who have moved to new areas and are looking for social groups.