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Grand Canyon rescue -- third time's the charm

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Grand Canyon rescue -- third time's the charm

Postby Alpinisto » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:47 pm

[from the NPS Morning Report, Oct. 21, 2009]

Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
Hikers Evacuated After Three SPOT Activations In Three Days

On the evening of September 23rd, rangers began a search for hikers who repeatedly activated their rented SPOT satellite tracking device. The GEOS Emergency Response Center in Houston reported that someone in the group of four hikers – two men and their two teenaged sons – had pressed the “help” button on their SPOT unit. The coordinates for the signal placed the group in a remote section of the park, most likely on the challenging Royal Arch loop.

Due to darkness and the remoteness of the location, rangers were unable to reach them via helicopter until the following morning. When found, they’d moved about a mile and a half to a water source. They declined rescue, as they’d activated the device due to their lack of water.

Later that same evening, the same SPOT device was again activated, this time using the “911” button. Coordinates placed them less than a quarter mile from the spot where searchers had found them that morning. Once again, nightfall prevented a response by park helicopter, so an Arizona DPS helicopter whose crew utilized night vision goggles was brought in. They found that the members of the group were concerned about possible dehydration because the water they’d found tasted salty, but no actual emergency existed. The helicopter crew declined their request for a night evacuation, but provided them with water before departing.

On the following morning, another SPOT “help” activation came in from the group. This time they were flown out by park helicopter. All four refused medical assessment or treatment. The group’s leader had reportedly hiked once at the Grand Canyon; the other adult had no Grand Canyon and very little backpacking experience. When asked what they would have done without the SPOT device, the leader stated, “We would have never attempted this hike.” The group leader was issued a citation for creating a hazardous condition (36 CFR 2.34(a)(4)).

[Submitted by Brandon Torres, Canyon District Shift Supervisor]
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Postby Franky » Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:02 pm

that really pisses me off on many many levels.

can't believe they didn't pull them out on the second time in there, hell, even the first time.
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Postby Stu Brandel » Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:21 pm

I hope they were charged for all 3 rescue attempts.
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Postby Luciano136 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:38 pm

They should get a huge fine!! That's ridiculous.
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Postby cp0915 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:28 pm

Ridiculous.
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Postby WICLIMBER » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:34 pm

What did they figure by pressing the "911" button that it would give a brief explanation of why the water tasted salty?! Simply ridiculous!! :evil:
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Postby surgent » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:46 pm

Don't be too hard on these guys. Imagine your water tastes slightly salty. Imagine the terror! I'd be hitting the button too, not to mention lighting some tree on fire to help direct the helicopter to me. Until you've experienced the hopelessness of slightly salty water, you can't make a fair impartial judgment. I daresay you're all "clean water" elitists.

We Arizonans gladly pay higher taxes so that our helicopters can lift off at a whim for people whose water may not be as pure as they thought it was. Even the signs at the GC trailheads suggest that when things get slightly inconvenient, hit your beacon. Helicopters are stashed every half-mile along both the north and south rims in discreetly-disguised hangars with full crews on-call 24/7/365, just for this sort of thing. A few years ago my shoelace was tied too tight, and bammo, I hit the button and a few hours later some nice helicopter guy loosened it for me.
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Postby cp0915 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:51 pm

Sheww, that's a relief! Next time I head to the GC, I'll prolly just leave the water at home. Lighten my pack and all. I can handle that salty stuff.
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Postby TobinPetty » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:56 pm

Further evidence that reinforces my distaste for much of humanity. Thank goodness for the professional rangers and responders that place their lives in risk to serve others.
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Postby pinscar » Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:26 pm

I cannot express to you how happy I was to have read this article:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33470581/?GT1=43001

Cell phones, SPOTs and ACRs have no place in the backcountry. They contribute to the dumbing down of backcountry users. Have a problem? It's not necessary to actually KNOW anything. Just push a button.

Please, flame if you want. I am unbending on this topic and will not argue.
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Postby edl » Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:35 pm

My dad made a good suggestion regarding backcountry rescues. When you call 911, the operator says "We'd be happy to send a helicopter. Will that be Visa or Mastercard"? Then we'll really see you badly you need rescue.
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Postby MoapaPk » Mon Oct 26, 2009 12:26 am

I once met a guy who had used his cellphone to call in 911 emergency rescue after he ran out of water, hiking at 1200' around Lake Mead, in June. The weather services gave a predicted daytime high of about 105F. He seemed totally unconcerned that he had to be rescued by helicopter in an area with obvious routes, and a downhill walk to his car via a wash. He felt that was the SAR job.

I tend to think that the devices, but far more the culture, have created an atmosphere of "it's all right to be oblivious". It's an era of instant gratification expected. You see similar people at the gym, monopolizing an exercise station to have a 10 minute cell phone conversation, or ignoring you until an iPod selection is finished, or stopping in the middle of a traffic circle to complete a text message.
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Postby MoapaPk » Mon Oct 26, 2009 12:29 am

edl wrote:My dad made a good suggestion regarding backcountry rescues. When you call 911, the operator says "We'd be happy to send a helicopter. Will that be Visa or Mastercard"? Then we'll really see you badly you need rescue.


There are signs all over the Grand Canyon, telling you how much it will cost for a helicopter or mule rescue. The regulations just need to have some teeth.

Regardless of the devices, people just don't feel they are responsible for their actions. They expect Deus ex machina to bail them out, whether it be in unmarried pregnancy, or trouble in the backwoods.
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Postby norco17 » Mon Oct 26, 2009 12:43 am

pinscar wrote:Cell phones, SPOTs and ACRs have no place in the backcountry. They contribute to the dumbing down of backcountry users. Have a problem? It's not necessary to actually KNOW anything. Just push a button.


Image
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Postby The Chief » Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:40 am

pinscar wrote:I cannot express to you how happy I was to have read this article:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33470581/?GT1=43001

Cell phones, SPOTs and ACRs have no place in the backcountry. They contribute to the dumbing down of backcountry users. Have a problem? It's not necessary to actually KNOW anything. Just push a button.

Please, flame if you want. I am unbending on this topic and will not argue.


Well, a SPOT was my primary alert device as I was giving a client of mine CPR after he collapsed at 10,800. I administered CPR for well over an hour awaiting help.

It never came.

I pronounced Jack dead at 1448 24 July 2009.

Wish they would have come.

Autopsy results confirmed that Jack died of HAPE.
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