News and notes from the Great Wide Open…
You might remember a post I made early last week about “Yuppie 911.” This is a growing problem where people use personal emergency beacons, like SPOT locators and avalanche beacons, to get themselves out of uncomfortable (but not emergency) situations or take on adventures beyond their abilities.
One incident profiled in the story I posted reported a group of hikers in the Grand Canyon pushed the button on their beacon three times in a relatively short period of time because they thought they were lost; they thought they would run out of water; and they thought the water they later filtered “tasted salty.” Each time they used their device, search and rescue teams — both on the ground and in a helicopter — responded at great risk to themselves and expense to their organizations.
Definitely an abuse of the system. But these hikers should be glad the Grand Canyon isn’t in New Hampshire.
According to an Associated Press story I read on the Aspen Times Web site, New Hampshire authorities will bill you for the cost of search and rescue, even if you truly were in a pinch.
One guy there sprained an ankle and was out on is own in the cold for three days. He did everything he could to self-rescue, and was even praised for his resourcefulness by rescue authorities who went looking for him. And then the state handed him a bill for the cost of his rescue: $25,734.65.
New Hampshire is one of eight states that have laws allowing for the billing of rescue costs, the AP reported. But it would appear New Hampshire is the only one that’s pretty serious about enforcing it.
On the surface, it seems like it might not be a bad idea. People who do really stupid things and get themselves into trouble or, in the Grand Canyon hiker case, those who needlessly call on rescue services, should have some consequence to their behavior, right?
Not so fast, some say. The same AP story said there is one constituency that is opposed to policies like New Hampshire’s: the rescue personnel.
Their take? If people go into the backcountry knowing they’ll be billed for rescue services, they’ll be hesitant to call for help when they really need it. Or they’ll just avoid states with such policies altogether.
I’d hate to think someone would hesitate to call for help in the event of a crisis because they feared getting billed thousands of dollars. Creating such indecision in unforgiving places where indecision can kill just doesn’t sound like a good idea. But then again, what do we do about Yuppie 911 cases?
Food for thought, folks. Wouldn’t mind hearing some opinions on that one.
Looking for an outdoor adventure with a different angle? Like maybe finding hidden treasure? Check out this link. Good story, good photos and a different tack on having fun outside.