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Newsweek : Who should have to pay to rescue stranded climbers ?


Mickalino

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Maybe the new government-run healthcare program will cover these rescues :silly:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/227009?GT1=43002

A Mountain of Bills

Who should have to pay to rescue stranded climbers?

What's the cost of a life—or really, what's the cost of saving one? When climbers, hikers, skiers, and rafters get caught in tight situations and need to be found and rescued, the answer can be a large number of taxpayer dollars. Recently suspended efforts to locate two climbers lost on Oregon's Mount Hood have re-raised questions about who should foot the bill for search-and-rescue operations, which can sometimes rack up large expenses for everything from helicopters to hours of overtime pay. "Depending on conditions, it can cost a lot," says Gerry Gaumer, a spokesman for the National Park Service, which spent nearly $5 million on search and rescue in 2008. "A lot of it depends on things like how much equipment you use. You're endangering your own people too."

The Mount Hood search—which included recovery of a third climber who was found dead—has involved sheriff's deputies, a military helicopter, and staff from Portland Mountain Rescue, a local volunteer organization. Maureen McLaughlin, a public information officer at Alaska's Denali National Park, says a large search operation like the Mount Hood one could involve dozens of people, from rangers on the ground to pilots and spotters who scan high-resolution photographs pixel by pixel for clues.

Rescue services have traditionally been provided free of charge, like police and firefighting, but public anger over costs has led several states to implement charges, often when officials determine that the rescuees have acted negligently. In a notable case, New Hampshire fined a Boy Scout $25,000 after he departed from marked trails, sprained an ankle, and required a rescue, using a 1999 law that allows for recovery of costs in cases in which the state department of fish and game determines negligence. Seven other states have similar laws, with a variety of limits and conditions, often passed in response to costly incidents.

But that move is controversial in the search-and-rescue community, says Howard Paul, a spokesman for the National Association for Search and Rescue. "There are documented cases where someone is afraid of the cost and they're put in this horrible position where they know they need help, but they'll delay calling for help," he says. "That should never figure into the equation."

There are several other factors that complicate charging rescuees for their rescue. Negligence is also tough to measure—even experienced climbers and hikers can get ambushed by whiteouts, avalanches, and unexpected injuries, despite precautions and preparation. "What's an undue risk?" Paul asks. "I have a greater risk of being seriously injured or killed driving to the mountains on an interstate." Furthermore, "the public's perception [of risk] is different from [that of] search-and-rescue personnel.

In other cases, costly rescue efforts might be launched even when they're not necessary, says Phil Powers, executive director of the American Alpine Club. "Experienced climbers are very resourceful. The problem comes when rescuers who have nothing but the best intentions operate on standard timelines," he says. "Let's say I'm a climber and I go out and don't come [back] for the night. It might not be that big a deal, I might just be waiting for dawn, but my wife, or other people who don't climb, might think it's a big deal."

Even then, however, the cost to taxpayers may not be as large as people fear. Many rescuers are often volunteer groups like the one in Portland, and although military support may be needed, rescues provide practice for units that need to log a quota of flight hours anyway, Powers says.

One alternate method is charging climbers a fee for higher-risk activities. Visitors to Denali, which includes Mount McKinley, the nation's highest peak, pay a small entrance fee ($10) but mountaineers have to pony up an additional $200, which the park uses to cover expenses directly related to climbing, including stationing rangers at high altitudes and providing orientation, services that are intended to reduce the chance that climbers will need rescuing, McLaughlin says. "We've had it since 1995, because we had a few years in there—1992 was a particularly bad one—where we had big storms and many fatalities," she says.

Colorado uses a different approach. A state fund collects money through small levies on recreational fees, like hunting and fishing licenses, and puts the money into the State Search and Rescue Fund, says Steve Denney, who manages the program. The state, which also allows for cost recovery from those rescued in some cases, helps local governments defray the cost of major rescues.

Mount Hood is a popular climbing site, attracting thousands of climbers every year, but it's also a lethal one. Since 1896, more than 130 people have died on the mountain, including seven students and two teachers from a Portland school who froze to death in 1986. And ultimately, it makes sense that preventing those sorts of deaths would be state officials' highest priority, no matter the cost.

© 2009

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We should just force uncompensated "volunteers" to rescue them. It is for the greater good...

What is different about these climbers behavior and that of an unemployed obese diabetic smoker. Of course they should not pay for the costs brought on by their own actions, that is what Uncle Sam is for...

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Raise the entrance fee that helps pay for search and rescue or require people to hold some type of insurance to help pay for it. Make it enough to either be able to pay for it, or to make the cost to the taxpayers relatively insignificant. If people are paying $200 for climbing I don't think raising the $10 fee to something like $25-$50 would be that much of a problem.

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Raise the entrance fee that helps pay for search and rescue or require people to hold some type of insurance to help pay for it. Make it enough to either be able to pay for it, or to make the cost to the taxpayers relatively insignificant. If people are paying $200 for climbing I don't think raising the $10 fee to something like $25-$50 would be that much of a problem.

That is a reasonable suggestion. Spreading the cost out over all hikers, climbers, etc is better than spreading the cost out over all taxpayers.

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this is definitely a hot topic around here (I'm only a few hours from Mt Hood) and also Mt Rainer which Seattle head coach Jim Mora climed this year.

Every year I read articles about climbers missing on those mtns. Some are found, some are not. The most recent one where 3 in their 20's became stranded, they found one dead and the other two are still missing. The search was called off due to extreme weather, and they are saying the bodies won't be recovered until spring- if they can find them then.

I think it was last year when a body was discovered on Mt hood or Mt Rainier, after being missing for nearly 20 years.

At the very least, make the hiking season specific. Why in the world are people hiking a mountain in the middle of winter months?

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this is definitely a hot topic around here (I'm only a few hours from Mt Hood) and also Mt Rainer which Seattle head coach Jim Mora climed this year.

Every year I read articles about climbers missing on those mtns. Some are found, some are not. The most recent one where 3 in their 20's became stranded, they found one dead and the other two are still missing. The search was called off due to extreme weather, and they are saying the bodies won't be recovered until spring- if they can find them then.

I think it was last year when a body was discovered on Mt hood or Mt Rainier, after being missing for nearly 20 years.

At the very least, make the hiking season specific. Why in the world are people hiking a mountain in the middle of winter months?

If it happens that often, then I wonder why the Mt Hood story makes national news, and none, or few, of the other ones do ?

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I think climbers should have to buy insurance or something prior to any expedition.

It's absurd that taxpayers have to foot the huge bill for search and rescue in these cases.

Loyds of loundon? Who else going to insure climbers? They should at least pay a permit fee, say $500 non refundable and be required to carry certain life sustaining gear/food and a sat phone. These "A" personality types think that they have some kind of right to be rescued and it is ridiculous.

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No funding for lifeguards. Learn to swim dammit

No funding for fire and rescue. Build your house out of non-flammable materials or get a sprinkler system.

Both those are generally paid for by the tax base of a city/county when provided.

There are many places w/o either once you leave the urban areas city boy;)

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Both those are generally paid for by the tax base of a city/county when provided.

There are many places w/o either once you leave the urban areas city boy;)

Same principle. If you are going to offer a rescue service fund it out of taxes or fees you derive from visitors.

I wish I didn't have to fund medication and healthcare for all the unhealthy people too, but such is life.

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Same principle. If you are going to offer a rescue service fund it out of taxes or fees you derive from visitors.

I wish I didn't have to fund medication and healthcare for all the unhealthy people too, but such is life.

Gonna be tough to collect in many areas unless you start selling permits,thought state and national parks would be a start....just like fishing licenses

Course then ya gotta add in enforcement costs.

I like the ins idea, you go w/o it and the tab is yours

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Loyds of loundon? Who else going to insure climbers? They should at least pay a permit fee, say $500 non refundable and be required to carry certain life sustaining gear/food and a sat phone. These "A" personality types think that they have some kind of right to be rescued and it is ridiculous.

It should be something like the Divers Alert Network at least for insurance. A lot of diving trips outside of the US require you have it to cover the costs of medical rescue flights for decompression sickness and such.

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It should be something like the Divers Alert Network at least for insurance. A lot of diving trips outside of the US require you have it to cover the costs of medical rescue flights for decompression sickness and such.

Yea I've had Dan and did a couple table six recompression treatments after a 220' wreck dive. On the dive I added 5 minutes to my deco stop on 80% O2

(dive computer thought I was using air for deco) and still took a shoulder dcs hit. I'm glad it was in Ft lauderdale and not mexico.

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Yea I've had Dan and did a couple table six recompression treatments after a 220' wreck dive. On the dive I added 5 minutes to my deco stop on 80% O2

(dive computer thought I was using air for deco) and still took a shoulder dcs hit. I'm glad it was in Ft lauderdale and not mexico.

Dean, are you talking about Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers ?

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Yea I've had Dan and did a couple table six recompression treatments after a 220' wreck dive. On the dive I added 5 minutes to my deco stop on 80% O2

(dive computer thought I was using air for deco) and still took a shoulder dcs hit. I'm glad it was in Ft lauderdale and not mexico.

I have absolutely no idea what you just said. :silly:

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Yea I've had Dan and did a couple table six recompression treatments after a 220' wreck dive. On the dive I added 5 minutes to my deco stop on 80% O2

(dive computer thought I was using air for deco) and still took a shoulder dcs hit. I'm glad it was in Ft lauderdale and not mexico.

So golf is too WASPy for your liking, but diving isnt? :silly:

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Loyds of loundon? Who else going to insure climbers? They should at least pay a permit fee, say $500 non refundable and be required to carry certain life sustaining gear/food and a sat phone. These "A" personality types think that they have some kind of right to be rescued and it is ridiculous.
I don't know who would insure them. I was thinking something along the lines of travel insurance, the type of insurance I get whenever I'm overseas in the field in case I have to be medivac'd out. I just had to pay for way expensive insurance for my upcoming field practicum to cover me being medivac'd out of the country b/c there aren't medical facilities where I'm going. I'm thinking of something along those lines for climbers and other extreme sports.

If there can't be a type of insurance for these people, I think they should have to pay a ton of money for climbing permits. Also, I think they should make more stringent the requirements of what climbers HAVE to have on them prior to any climb, like you mentioned (sat phones, etc.)

Also, I don't climb, but can anyone knowledgeable here tell me why people climb in the middle of winter? Is there an advantage to it or something? I seriously don't know, it just seems really, really stupid to me.

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