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Rescues

Discussion of medical or rescue topics related to climbing and mountaineering.
 

Re: Rescues

Postby Greg Enright » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:20 am

Dow Williams wrote:Rick, I think there might be a generation gap here....individuals still living with their folks into their 30's kind of assume the military is just a given....here to serve and practise at no cost to society....kind of like Santa Clause operates....not quite sure what income taxes are yet....nor the federal deficit....but heard of them....Vitality tries to cut through the red tape as always...but no one wants to hear it put that simple...I wish they did.



WTF? Not sure what the generation gap has to do with any of the comments on this thread. Many of the responses are written by people who volunteer their time to rescue people they have never met. Are these the individuals you are referring to who assume the military is just a given? And perhaps you don't understand just how much each of these SAR volunteers sacrifice financially to respond to calls.
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Re: Rescues

Postby mvs » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:18 pm

Greg Enright wrote:
Dow Williams wrote:Rick, I think there might be a generation gap here....individuals still living with their folks into their 30's kind of assume the military is just a given....here to serve and practise at no cost to society....kind of like Santa Clause operates....not quite sure what income taxes are yet....nor the federal deficit....but heard of them....Vitality tries to cut through the red tape as always...but no one wants to hear it put that simple...I wish they did.



WTF? Not sure what the generation gap has to do with any of the comments on this thread. Many of the responses are written by people who volunteer their time to rescue people they have never met. Are these the individuals you are referring to who assume the military is just a given? And perhaps you don't understand just how much each of these SAR volunteers sacrifice financially to respond to calls.


Don't you know Greg, people are willfully stupid, mucking up concepts that should be simple from their dads basement, listening to that acid rock :D

The tampon story was awesome, but you know she coulda had a better angle than "embarassment." I know from the literature that heavy menstrual flow has been implicated in bear attacks. Approaching Lone Pine after dark, bleedin' like a stuck pig, all the black bears returning from their visits to the garbage dump.

I'm just sayin'...
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Re: Rescues

Postby MoapaPk » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:54 pm

In 2005, there was a SAR call initiated (by cell) for a pit bull that had torn up its feet on the sharp limestone rocks of Devil's Thumb, Charleston Peak. The story gets a little murky here, but In the end the owners just walked out, carrying the dog part way, and went down an easier, snowy route. Helicopters were scrambled to that area, but I don't think they took anyone away.

We've had a lot of instances where people tried to hike in the canyons by Lake Mead in the summer, often in temps above 110F. Many fatalities. I would guess that some of these folks DID try to get a cell signal, but the canyon walls prevent line-of-sight to a tower. The situation is much like in the Grand Canyon; folks generally walk downhill to reach springs by the river, and don't realize how hard it will be to go back up. In June of 2003, a fellow decided to hike through Anniversary Narrows near Lake Mead, and out over the nearby peak. He ran out of water and panicked. Lucky for him, he was in line of sight of a cell tower, and was rescued by Vegas SAR.

I'm sure there are doofusses carrying SPOTs; but it takes some consideration of consequences to bring one to the point of buying a SPOT, and that is an imperfect filter, tending to bias towards the cautious. On the other hand, almost every doofuss is carrying a cell phone.

SAR has to do search as well as rescue, and very often a loved one calls in only after the hiker/climber is significantly overdue. And all too often, the missing person is dead at that point, can't help with location, and the search gets pretty expensive. As said above, most SAR folk would probably rather rescue a live person than do a body recovery. Yes, if a guy falls 500' off a cliff, it's not going to matter if s/he had a cell phone, plb or SPOT.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:14 pm

mvs wrote:The tampon story was awesome, but you know she coulda had a better angle than "embarassment." I know from the literature that heavy menstrual flow has been implicated in bear attacks. Approaching Lone Pine after dark, bleedin' like a stuck pig, all the black bears returning from their visits to the garbage dump.

I'm just sayin'...


Sorry Mike, but your empathy here will not fly.

1) No active bears on the eastside of Whitney above 9K or so this time of the year. Except of course male humans.
Besides, any bears in the Portal area had far too many accessible garbage containers etc (BITD: modern Bear Proof T-Cans were not existent) to be bothered with a menstruating human.

2) We offered her two boxes of 6X6 gauze bandages to cover the area/minimize and contain the "leakage" so she could complete her Whitney Adventure as it began. She insisted that would not do.

3) She refused any other alternative to this situ other than a lift to her vehicle at the Portal and then insisted on it.
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Re: Rescues

Postby mvs » Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:54 pm

Okay then. Well I was actually joking a little bit, but with the atmosphere so serious I'd better follow suit. So I'll join you. I shake my head for shame at this woman. I wish and hope that one day she'll get a bill. That'll teach her. I extrapolate from her story that maybe there is a sickness afoot in the land, people wandering around with SPOT beacons pressing the button when they have to go potty and want a helicopter ride. I'll bravely assert that the right response to that is to charge for all "rescue" services, 911 calls included, maybe unless it's a minor calling, or maybe not. I'll have to think about it. Because I'm as generous as the next guy, but when it comes to my taxpayer dollars I can't afford to be generous. What is the world coming to? We aren't running a santa-claus operation here. Cripes. I bet there's one out there right now. Wiggling his finger over his SPOT button. Just about to call because he wants his mommy. Moratorium! I say we sue that SPOT comp'ny on the behalf of the tax payer and disconnect their GPS feed. That'll teach 'em! Can't they see we Just. Can't. Afford. This. Stuff?!? I mean we're dyin' here!! Right? :D
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Re: Rescues

Postby MoapaPk » Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:34 pm

Yeah, if you can't extrapolate a generalization from one incident, WHAT GOOD ARE THE NEWS MEDIA?
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:47 pm

Oh she got extrapolated alright!
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Re: Rescues

Postby Z-Man » Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:42 am

I'm surprised no one has commented on my assertion that the alternatives to the current system are worse, especially in regards to charges wrought on climbers.

Dow's position seems to be unchanged and appears to characterize death and injury in the mountains which requires public resources to respond to as an act which should carry an automatic fine. I would like to know more specifics about the plan Dow. I'm not trying to be snide, I honestly want to know what methods you think would be appropriate to identify and charge the folks you have in mind. Currently the County Sheriff's Offices, at least in WA, although I have never seen it done, have the power to fine or imprison people on a wide variety of charges related to what they might characterize as reckless behavior in the mountains.

I also want to know what people think about Parks Canada and the NPS wrapping search and rescue costs into user fees, should that be changed to only charge those who are the subjects of SAR missions?

And finally is the European model a good one to emulate? Private insurance and private, professional rescue groups regulating sar? Keep in mind ultimately the Counties and States are in charge of SAR currently and could potentially set up any system they want.

If people are dissatisfied with the current setup I would like to hear the alternatives that people have in mind.

As a soon-to-be M.D. I think about these issues on a very regular basis in regards to health care and in general opt for practical and cheap solutions rather than any that push any particular notion of personal freedom, responsibility, or wealth distribution.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Dow Williams » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:13 am

Z-Man wrote: I would like to know more specifics about the plan Dow.


As Vitality so elegantly put it, I want folks to be responsible for themselves in the backcountry. That means paying for rescue services if they need them, even if they have passed. Plain and simple.

Make you a deal though. Once I see impoverished kids in the city get access to the same health care as the predominantly middle aged/middle class white guys getting rescued in the bc....I will reconsider my position.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:38 am

Z-Man wrote:I also want to know what people think about Parks Canada and the NPS wrapping search and rescue costs into user fees, should that be changed to only charge those who are the subjects of SAR missions?


And whom may these particular individuals be?
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Re: Rescues

Postby Z-Man » Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:11 am

Dow Williams wrote:As Vitality so elegantly put it, I want folks to be responsible for themselves in the backcountry. That means paying for rescue services if they need them, even if they have passed. Plain and simple.

Make you a deal though. Once I see impoverished kids in the city get access to the same health care as the predominantly middle aged/middle class white guys getting rescued in the bc....I will reconsider my position.


I understand your assertion, but I want more specifics, such as the caveats brought up by other users. For instance, if someone else calls in a rescue for you, which happens very often, are you still liable for the cost? How do you define specifically who is utilizing the sar service? On many missions there are multiple subjects and some fly out, some walk, and some bystanders also get a ride because they're pitching in or have donated supplies that have compromised their own ability to get themselves out on foot. Do the subjects who walk out or the bystanders who helped out also get charged? How about subjects of urban search and rescue incidents? Those represent probably a 1/4 of my county's responses. Is the county responsible for pursuing reimbursement from people who can't pay? Should the charges cover the full cost of SAR or just the public resources used during some specific time defined as the actual operation? Do expenses such as training and gear count?

Should the NPS, Parks Canada, and the USFS on Mount Adams change their policy to reflect this so only subjects of sar missions get charged, rather than user fees for all visitors? Currently the international rescue insurance offered by the AAC has never been invoked in the US as far as I know, should they be expected to cover these costs if someone has the insurance and gets billed for a rescue?

How do you propose to offset the extra liability cost that would be incurred by sar volunteers if charge-for-rescue goes into effect? Amendments to state constitutions regarding good samaritan laws, sar volunteers get a cut of the rescue charge, or just accept a reduced and more reticent sar membership? The MRA has said publicly that charge for rescue will kill volunteer search and rescue wherever it's enacted.

I'm not trying to be a dick going through these so incessantly, I'm going through the specifics is because it is the details which define why SAR is the way it is today, not because of an overarching political philosophy. I welcome cost-savings and more fairly-distributed resources for the sar system as much as I demand it for health care for all residents of my home country. As it stands now all of these details are accounted for in the present system and I'd like to know specifically how they will be dealt with in the system you envision. Eventually I recommend that you bring a proposal to the climbing community, your community at large, and/or the county and state governments that is specific and accounts for these details if you want to see them change. Every couple years, usually in close proximity to the latest high-profile incident on Hood or Rainer, a bill is introduced in WA or OR to change the way SAR operates, usually charge-for-rescue. Representatives from my unit have traveled to Olympia to testify against such bills, usually because they are poorly thought out and do not account for the details I mentioned above, numerous times and have so far been successful in seeing them be shelved. But as the MRA statement says, a dialogue on the subject is welcome. To do this you do have to restrict your emotional involvement and try to be a bit objective.

I have another question for you, and you shouldn't take it personally, but it will help me understand more of your position, Dow, are you a citizen of the USA?

For what it's worth both the inner-city kids and the middle-aged folks get services from me, either through SAR or the clinics I work at, and both at considerable cost to myself.

A5RP I don't understand your question, unless you're making the same point as me, which is that Dow has yet to specifically define who the individuals are.
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Re: Rescues

Postby coldfoot » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:56 am

Most SAR units, county sheriffs etc that I've seen an opinion from on the subject, say the vast majority of their callouts are for day hikers, lost kids, elderly or low-functioning people who wander off, etc. The dramatic searches for backpackers and climbers that make the news are a small fraction.

This may be less true in counties that have a lot of mountains and see a lot of backcountry recreation, like where A5RP operates, but I suspect it is true as an overall average. Even YOSAR says most of their callouts are sick tourists, lost or injured day-hikers, and the like. Where I live (S. AZ) there are both mountains and desert, and every summer people (sometimes out of towners, sometimes not) out for a casual hike need to be rescued and sometimes die of heatstroke, and this happens more predictably than rescues of climbers. People get rescued from flash floods and they aren't hardcore BC types, they are drivers or walkers who made a foolish decision (you _can_be fined for driving into a flooded wash, especially if you drove past a "Do Not Enter When Flooded" sign).

The problem is, you are never going to get day hikers and tourists, not to mention lost kids, to buy rescue insurance. Yet we as a society (in the US at least) expect the sheriff's dept to go find them, and I think that's appropriate in a civilized society. I just don't think you can persuade the society to charge day-hikers and kids for rescue. So where do you draw the line about who has to carry the insurance or get charged? Anyone out for an overnight? Anyone on class 3 or greater terrain? Anyone with a rope? Anyone who sprays about climbing on the internet? Anyone wearing a softshell, or with a dead-bird logo?

You can't run an insurance program well if only a small fraction of the beneficiaries carry the insurance. In order to make this work the principle would have to be applied to all SAR "customers" and I don't think that will happen.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Dow Williams » Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:18 pm

Z-Man wrote:
Dow Williams wrote: I'm going through the specifics is because it is the details which define why SAR is the way it is today, not because of an overarching political philosophy.


Actually you are dead wrong, it is a social and political issue witnessed first hand right here on this thread...you need to be a bit slow not to recognize that....bureaucrats could toil for years to figure it out vs actually getting shit done, but yes it should be charged and collected...controlled access park rescues charged as an across the board user fee is fine by me...nothing is perfectly equitable, there is no perfect world...but that solution, the one Canada uses for their National Parks (you are more likly to pay for Provincial Park rescue) is much more equitable then anything we currently have in the US....your problem is you lack focus...there are people who get things done and folks who just talk about executing plans.....you would talk yourself into circles trying to implement this. Lets hope you do not get a Washington DC job anytime too soon.....don't need any more of that. I am not looking for a perfect plan, just simply passing the approximate costs of SARS to the individual needing the service, if that individual puts themselves in the BC for recreation or hire.

As to my citizenship, sure I am American. But there is no reason for you to be intimidated by folks from other countries getting into this debate if they so desire. Lets call that irrelevant.
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Re: Rescues

Postby mrchad9 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:12 pm

You fellows are ridiculous… getting all stirred up over a few rescues in the mountains. Yes… it pisses me off just as much when someone calls SAR and gets pulled out of the mountains when they don’t really need it. But we really have only the local authorities to blame for those instances. If they would bill callers for unnecessary rescues, or even better make a command decision themselves on whether it is needed instead of abdicating the responsibility elsewhere, then such occurrences would happen less frequently. Leave people where they are unless it is a legitimate emergency. As it is though, it unfortunately isn’t going to change.

There is an overall theme here of people taking personal responsibility and allocating costs to those who might result in the expenses. Well that just isn’t how our society works from beginning to end. If you wanted to be consistent in your beliefs I would think you might be more passionate about it in areas that are much more significant and have more impact.

Our state and national parks and forests get funding from the state and federal government, not solely from user fees from those who happen to visit. Fair or not?
The fire dept should only charge people who are affected by a particular fire. Why should they get any of my tax dollars? Hell… arsonists don’t even have to automatically pay for their crimes in most areas.
Why should I have to pay tax dollars to prosecute and detain rapists and murderers? Let the guilty parties pay for it, or even the victims. But I am not involved in it.
Maybe all roads should be tolls roads? Why should I pay to repair landslides on Highway 1 when I rarely go there? Or a coastal resident pay for Highway 120 to Yosemite?
Why should my federal tax dollars do to support some idiot who keep building their house in hurricane or flood prone areas? Maybe mine should be directed solely to those affected by earthquakes and grassfires?
Why should federal money be used for Coast Guard rescues of some hapless guy on a sailboat? I don’t even own a boat! Just charge fees to every sailboat owner and fisherman right? Can we be consistent?

Climbers, hikers, weekend warriors, and even tourons are on average fitter than the general population consisting primarily of diabetic and obese lard asses (speaking of the US and not Canada here). There are likely fewer smokers in the outdoor population versus the general public too. Considering the overall cost health care places on our economy I just don’t see a need to create additional fees that might give people another reason to get less exercise. I hardly think people in the outdoors are a burden on society. They are more educated, more productive, pay more taxes, and healthier than many other demographic groups. If the cost of getting people off their butts and out of their homes is a few rescues for the occasional unprepared hiker, then I can live with that. But I suppose that is not at fun as attacking and insulting each other.
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