Last week I wrote a post asking the question of whether or not people should be charged for costs related to search and rescue. I got a lot of feedback – some here on the blog, more on Facebook, and still more from the 14ers.com forum.
First, the poll results. Ninety-six people took part in the poll, with six saying people should be charged; 43 people saying they shouldn’t; and 47 saying people should only be charged in cases of carelessness or recklessness. Thanks to everyone who voted in the poll!
Now, on to some of the comments I got. First, via Facebook…
From Paula: Only if their stupidity or lack of preparation got them in trouble. If someone is in DIRE need and truly thinks he might die, he won’t care what the cost is and will fire up the beacon. I wonder if the fines will encourage people to prepare more before hitting the outdoors.
From Tim: …how does search and rescue determine whether or not somebody was stupid? You could say that most people who go out and get themselves stuck are people who are inexperienced and stupid.
From Melissa: There used to be signs up at the Grand Canyon warning people that the climb down was hard and if they needed help getting out, there would be a fee of X dollars to come pluck them out. I am not opposed to something like that…..they are warned ahead of time. But then on the other hand, things happen and what might be stupidity to one person may not be to another so that leads to judgment calls that would differ depending on someone’s point of reference of “what is stupidity.” Maybe that is what tax dollars are for….although I do see that some cities are billing accident victims now for something tax dollars are supposed to help pay for.
From Scott: If you buy a SPOT, rescue insurance is about $10 per year. If you buy a fishing license in some states, rescue insurance comes along with it. An insurance company is there to cover the risk and that is why we have it …in case anything goes wrong, we don’t have to pay out of pocket. If you don’t have rescue insurance, you pay out of pocket. Simple.
And from Ouida: When I went hiking in the Rocky Mountains, I bought the fishing license, so that I would have the search and rescue insurance. I guess you can call it that. But with that $10, if I had gotten lost or injured, it would have covered it. Glad I didn’t have to use it.
One more from the 14ers.com forum…
From CO Native: The problem with charging for a rescue for someone who was being careless or reckless is that the fact that they needed a rescue usually is used as evidence that they were careless or reckless. Places that have attempted to charge for these reasons have always ended up charging for all rescues.
Thanks to everyone for their input. This is a hot topic, and it’s not likely to go away anytime soon.
On that note: Have you ever needed search and rescue? If so, were you charged? What happened? Enlighten us.