Monday, March 7, 2011

Search And Rescue Conversation-Who Pays

A controversial topic always surrounds the Payment Question:
when someone is out "there" and gets into trouble, who should pay for the search and rescue of those people?

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When we parked a car at Table Rock State Park to hike the Foothills Trail, the front desk required the parking permit (free) to state our return date. We posted one day past our intended return date to prevent a Search and Rescue being performed without merit. What if we wanted to take it a little slower? Its the first time I've ever felt threatened by a search and rescue.

Some worry that imposing the cost upon the receivers of a Search and Rescue would cause those in danger not to call for help in time. How many actually have a cell phone with them, and does it even get a signal? You can call home from Mt.Everest, but not from these hills in North East Georgia. If you think you'll get a signal anywhere on the Pacific Crest Trail, you'll be surprised.

Some interesting stats I found:
Oregon S&R in 2005
Activity/Percent of Missions

1)Motor Vehicles/20.5%
3)Wandering (without specific destination)/10.1%
8)Fixed-wing Aircraft/3.7%
10)Mushroom Picking/3.0%

Source: Office of Emergency Management

I ask myself, If I was in danger of dying, or loosing a couple limbs, would I be willing to pay $10,00 for my own life? Hell ya.
If I'm not willing to pay it, why would I expect anyone else to be willing to foot the bill?

There are many extenuating circumstances in scenarios like this. I don't have the answers.
Comments welcome.
Stay safe.


  1. You'd be surprised how many times you can get signal on the PCT. I twittered in my locations from the trail so my son knew where I was.

    Also often when I couldn't get signal, I got SOS signal which I guess is just for emergency calling. For instance the entire MT. Hood area is covered by a strong SOS signal.

    I don't carry the phone for emergency. It's for ordering shoes or gear that needs replacing, keeping my son informed about my location, checking on town hours,etc. Like last year my son texted me Asabat's water report. In places where you can't get enough signal to make a phone call you can often get enough to send and receive text messages.

    A lot of hikers are carrying Spots now. They just push a button and Search and Rescue comes gets them. Only sometimes the button gets pushed accidentally, or the person is in a canyon when they send their "I'm okay" button and the folks worry and ask Search and Rescue to start looking for them. Also sometimes they are just a little scared and not really that bad off.

    I can't see me carrying a Spot. A person has to die someday and on the trail would be my preference.

    I'd have to be pretty bad off to pay 10,000 dollars for a rescue. But maybe I could find my self in a situation that I couldn't solve or except.

    One of the things I like about hiking is feeling independent and being able to deal with and except whatever comes. I don't want to be rescued.

  2. Interesting comments, Crow. I also like the independence, and being without the constant "safety net" our society places upon us.
    The price of true freedom is a measure of danger coupled with a pinch or two of misery.

    Are humans getting too soft, do you think?