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.
I made a snarky comment earlier in this thread. These men were idiots to the extreme.
However, asking for payment up front in a SAR situation is not the way to go. There are real situations and people will often not call for help when they really need it for two reasons: hubris and the potential cost. There is not much that can be done about the first.
Every SAR team is backed in some manner by a law-enforcement agency, be it county sheriff, state police or NP. It is they who decide whether to cite the rescued if they feel it is justified. In the case of the GC hikers, yes, absolutely: cite the hell out of them then pass the costs over to them.
I was with SAR (Central AZ MR) for 6 years. Many times the rescued would inquire about costs - in spite of their physical situation. After we brought them down, then the sergeant would go over the details and decide if citations were necessary. We tended to give the rescued a wide latitude, but yes, a few were cited. One person called in a "bleeding out" situation, mobilizing two teams and some helicopters, only to find out he had an agave spine in his calf about 2 inches. They were cited for the costs. That was appropriate.
The only beef I have with the GC story is why the rescue crew did not recognize the situation for what it was the first time and forcibly evacuate the hikers then. If not the first time then surely the second time. Why give them a third chance?