October 26, 2009

Nature is Scary! Get Me Out of Here!

The headline: Rescuers Fear Yuppie 911.

People carrying GPS-enabled emergency beacons ("Onstar for hikers", "Yuppie 911") are pressing them whenever they feel mildly inconvenienced, causing problems for seach-and-rescue teams and other first responders.

In the span of three days, the group pushed the panic button three times, mobilizing helicopters for dangerous, lifesaving rescues inside the steep [Grand C]anyon walls.

What was that emergency? The water they had found to quench their thirst "tasted salty."

Or the woman who activated hers because she was frightened of a thunderstorm. Great-grandmother would have hunkered down and waited it out, y'know?

Charging more people for unnecessary rescues seems like one option. Or fining them, as the National Park Service did the Grand Canyon idiots.

In Colorado, purchasers of hunting and fishing licenses automatically contribute to a Search and Rescue Fund that reimburses at least some costs of a rescue. Or you can buy a state SAR card that does the same thing. Three bucks, and you can get it online.

If a service is free, people will misuse it. Ask this guy.

UPDATE: New Hampshire bills hikers for rescues; other states differ.


mdmnm said...

Wow, if I was part of the crew that went in for the Grand Canyon types the second or third time I'd be voting to airlift them out, but by dangling them head-down below, rather than carrying them in, the helicopter.

Pretty big jump from the discussion of the ethics of carrying a cell phone on a backpacking trip.

Charging folks for unnecessary rescues does sound like a good option.

James R. Rummel said...

Good post.