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Rescues

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

Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:30 am

One needs to remember that in most other countries, some sort of SAR Insurance is required to play on their hills. That in fact is a mandate.

When I flew SAR & CSAR, over six years and 2800+ hours worth (USN out of NAS Lemoore which fully supported YOSAR and McMurdo which fully supported NSFA and HCS-5 in Somalia) in the 70's, 80's and early 90's, the amount of people in the hills or out in the field was no where what it is today. Maybe 1/100th of what I see today. Most SAR call outs then were totally legit and necessary.

The last ten or so years, I have been involved in assisting some two dozen SAR call outs in the INYO National Forrest area and 60 or so % of those were just plain not required.

Also, more and more people are heading up into the mountains that have absolutely no business being there. Fact. Self-Reliance/Rescue is not a game requirement these days. Only a cell phone or a SPOT device is.

I agree 100% with DOW all based on today's legit SAR statistics.






BTW, we never had the luxury of hanging out and eating donuts at the CP, regardless the time of day or night. We were too busy searching/operating. That must be the difference between Military SAR Ops and Civilian Volunteers.
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Re: Rescues

Postby mattyj » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:17 am

robk wrote:Are you aware of insurers denying coverage based on the call that on-scene medics or medical personnel made? Just curious.


I don't have any firsthand knowledge, but that's what I was told by someone who ought to know (former air ambulance worker, in addition to other things). If you have a heart attack or stroke, rapid transport to the hospital can make a difference between life and death. If you have a broken leg, it may be a *real* pain to hike out on it, but the air ambulance doesn't really improve your outcome and the insurance may not view it as a medical intervention. I'm sure it varies wildly from plan to plan and this may be based on a few outlier denied claims. Like anything else in health care, I'm sure the air ambulances are adept at coding things to look more serious than they really are, maximizing the amount they get from your insurance - while the insurance is busy finding any excuse they can to deny coverage.

A5RP wrote:BTW, we never had the luxury of hanging out and eating donuts at the CP, regardless the time of day or night. We were too busy searching/operating. That must be the difference between Military SAR Ops and Civilian Volunteers.


Surely someone had to sit around and manage things (maybe you called them officers)? Having midnight munchies in the CP is not mutually exclusive with doing work. Even though it's an LE function SAR has adopted a lot of management practices from Fire, and my understanding is that those have evolved significantly over the last couple decades. People figured out that for a variety of reasons, you don't want everyone to go running straight into the burning building.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Dow Williams » Sat Jul 14, 2012 3:45 pm

Courts are used to collect civil judgements, not just criminal. Calling/using SARS will never be a criminal offence, but it is a use of service that most tax payers do not have need for. The expense should be borne by the user. Many user fees are collected through local governments (who have access to civil court to assist in their collection efforts, liens, etc) property taxes. liquor licenses, dog licenses, garbage, water and sewer fees.....and so should SAR fees...by those who use those services. Plain and simple really. I am not going to pay someone elses water bill, nor do I want to pay for their rescue in the mountains.

I take issue with more than 50% of the rescue calls I witness in terms of bad judgment by the indvidual(s) being rescued. Folks need to be responsible for their own actions. It is quite ironic that many of you who want the public at large to pay for a SAR team to be at your disposal for free.....are against universal health care...where children, via plain luck, are born into poverty and get sick by no actions of their own.....and you don't support access for all to health care..something that every man, woman and child will need before their life ends. Ironic.

And yes, our deficit is attributed to this very attitude....me, me and me. Everyone wants their specific interests and services paid for. No one is willing to sacrifice and take responsibility for their own actions and risks. Climbing, skiing and mountaineering is inherently dangerous. If you want to participate in these recreational activities, there are risks and potential costs involved. "The public should never have to pay for rescues of folks who put themselves in harms way recreationally or for hire." One sentence makes the definition of what I am espousing quite clear.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:38 pm

mattyj wrote:Surely someone had to sit around and manage things (maybe you called them officers)?


Oh they were sitting alright. Both were in the right and left hand pilot seats in the forward cabin driving the helo as I was being lowered on the hoist etc. The CP (HAC: Helo Aircraft Commander) was and still is in the operating SAR helo. They are the IC for that aircraft via delegated authority. We were it. That is how the Navy and most other Military SAR units SOP's were and still are.

Dow's point is his opinion regarding why SAR's should be charged. Mine is it may deter the many out there today, who feel entitled to being rescued regardless of their complete ineptness. They will then be held accountable for their ignorance in thinking and planning that they will just make the call and someone will immediately respond to get them out of the jam they were totally unprepared to get themselves out of in the first place.

Again, self-reliance is no longer figured into the equation of heading out and up into the hills.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Scott » Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:30 pm

The public should never have to pay for rescues of folks who put themselves in harms way recreationally or for hire.


There are some very good points made here. Colorado has a CORSAR card that helps pay for rescue cost. Good idea and if it were expanded, it would be even better. As an outdoor person, I agree that we should pay for rescues. There should always be some kind of charge in my opinion.

On the other hand, if the issue is fairness, climbers, hikers, etc. get an unfair rap on this. I think that the climbers (or anyone else physically active) pay a lot more for the general public than the general public pays for climbers (physically active).

The couch potatoes are costing this country trillions and we’re all paying for it. If it were made fair, they should be giving something in return since we’re paying for then.

We spend all this money on terrorism and the war on drugs, but lack of physical activity is a far greater threat to America. As far as I’m concerned, with rare exceptions anyone with a fat kid is a child abuser and just passing on their stupidity to the next generation and a great threat to humankind.

I feel for those that have health problems solely because of genetics, but not those who choose poor lifestyles. As far as I’m concerned, health insurance cost should be on a sliding scale with body fat percentage. I’m out of shape too, but at least I try.

Although I feel that climbers should pay or help pay for their rescues, I really don’t have any sympathy for the couch potatoes that have to fit part of the bill. We’re paying far more to them than they are paying for us.

If someone is doing something really stupid out in the wilds, such as calling the NPS in situations like this (the second story about the Yuppie 911 when someone called a helicopter because the water tasted salty):

http://www.traditionalmountaineering.or ... pie911.htm

They should be charged 100% if not criminally prosecuted.

However, if the general public shouldn't help pay for our lifestyle (and I agree 100% that they should not), we shouldn't pay for theirs either. I'm 100% for personal responsibility.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Dow Williams » Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:16 pm

Of course I concur Scott...tired of the drain obesity (a life choice in my opinion) plays on our health care system. But buddy, we have reached a point where we all have to quit pointing fingers at the other guys and crying it is not fair! Those of us discussing this hear and now on an outdoor adventure site should all man up and be responsible for our own rescues if in fact needed, financial or otherwise. We do these activities by choice, and like Rick alludes to, I see so much crap regarding folks thinking they can do these activities and are entitled to be covered by rescue by the public at large. It ruins the adventure for me. I do not carry a Spot for that reason. I will not set that example. This device is so abused right now, in my opinion. On Epinephrine just recently, by supposedly climbers with gear and ropes in hand, no injuries. Absurd.
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Re: Rescues

Postby surgent » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:30 pm

Points already made (or maybe not).

1. Since most SAR missions are under the auspices of a law agency (sheriff, state, NP), they have the discretion to charge for rescues or cite the individuals on a case by case basis, depending how egregious the situation may have been. Most rescues are simply people making a wrong turn, or other minor stuff. Invariably, when reaching the subjects, their first question was how much would this cost them. The fear of the big cost outweighs their possibility of dying in the field.

2. Insurance or waivers: a slippery slope is that the insurers then can dictate where climbs and hikes may take place, or not. Large sections of the wilderness can be closed because no one wants to deal with the possibility of a rescue and its costs.

This is not an black-and-white issue. To make this presumption is either ignorant, or shows a callousness that enables the resulting argument to "fit", e.g. a straw man.

The vast vast vast majority of people who hike, climb and explore the backcountry do so without incident. Do not allow yourself to get caught up in a handful of exceptional cases. To do so, and ignore the truer, broader picture, is foolish.

In my 7 years in SAR (Central AZ), I can count on one hand the times where the subjects were egregiously reckless, and they were indeed cited and made to pay some of the costs. The majority of the rest were regular people who took a wrong turn, things got dark, and so forth. Shit happens to everyone eventually. Some were pricks to us, some were infinitely grateful. Who cares. We got them out of a bad situation and that's all that mattered.

SAR is already a mandate of most county sheriffs and state departments of public safety. It's already budgeted. It's staffed mostly by volunteers. It's a system that works, in spite of the occasional idiot that abuses the system.

My suggestion: stop worrying about other people and their situation(s). You simply cannot know the full set of details of any situation. What looks benign to you, standing on the sidelines, may be something far more serious. Seriously, when a rock slides and breaks a guy's ankle, is it "his fault"? Tough cookies to him?
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:44 pm

surgent wrote:My suggestion: stop worrying about other people and their situation(s). You simply cannot know the full set of details of any situation. What looks benign to you, standing on the sidelines, may be something far more serious. Seriously, when a rock slides and breaks a guy's ankle, is it "his fault"? Tough cookies to him?


I concur 100% with your experiential insight.

Unfortunately, many of today's call outs in my local area, especially the East SEKI, Whitney and Williamson Regions, are becoming more on the basis of the parties inability to self rescue themselves from what use to be a "benign" no brainer scenario in the past. Many are also from piss poor pre planning in regards to obvious incoming/impending foul weather or bad environmental conditions (Extremely unstable and dangerous AVY conditions), fatigue due to a lack of any solid physical conditioning preparedness, improper equipment utilization or lack of having it or knowledge in it's proper use, and some are folks that just get overwhelmed at what they expected to be a rather "walk in the park" situ and simply freeze in place, scared out of their wits.

That is the reality these days in the Eastern Sierra, SEKI, YNP and in what I read up in the Pac NW (Cascades) as well.


Don't get me wrong that the hearty spirited souls on either of the SEKI, YOSAR, Mono or Inyo County SAR Teams are not willing to go out save some lives. I applaud each and everyone of them. Fact is, far too many occurrences these days put all those precious resources in danger. When many of the scenarios of late were completely avoidable.

I believe that is the difference from your very valid point Surgent.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Scott » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:22 pm

Of course I concur Scott...tired of the drain obesity (a life choice in my opinion) plays on our health care system. But buddy, we have reached a point where we all have to quit pointing fingers at the other guys and crying it is not fair!


I know, but much what I said stems to the comments in newspaper boards everytime a climber gets injured or dies, saying all climbers (or even hikers, cavers, bikers, etc) are idiots. I could be wrong, but I would bet that the majority of the people making the comments are fat, lazy slobs costing the rest of us a bunch of money in medical cost.

Happens every time and here are some random examples:

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/ ... r#comments

http://news.yahoo.com/mount-rainier-ran ... 41910.html

http://www.amazon.com/review/R32X8NX7GX ... hisHelpful

If they are going to complain about the physically active, the finger definately should be pointed at them and they should be held to the same standard about costing the public money. The standard should just be applied equally to them, that's all.

This device is so abused right now, in my opinion.


+1. I don't carry one for the same reason.

And you are right. A lot of people have done stupid, reckless things in the wilds and just expected a rescue.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Dow Williams » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:46 pm

My suggestion: stop worrying about other people and their situation(s). You simply cannot know the full set of details of any situation. What looks benign to you, standing on the sidelines, may be something far more serious. Seriously, when a rock slides and breaks a guy's ankle, is it "his fault"? Tough cookies to him?


I realize that is how many with their head in the sand approach figure democracy works.....reality is a discussion needs to be had as to who is responsible for the poor bastard's ankle. I say he is. Society needs to start saying he is and quit worrying about being politically correct. We need to start setting priorities and admitting there is not perfect nirvana where everyone gets tapped into such luxurious resources such as a helicopter rescue for example. We need to all start facing reality when it comes to how we budget and distribute our limited resources, search and rescue, police, medical, fire, education, etc.

Harden the fuck up folks, yes it is "tough cookies" to him or I. We put ourselves in that situation. I just made the second ascent of 1500' of 5.10d on the worst fucking rock this planet has. I am an idiot by most city dweller perspectives and can't say I blame them. My partner and I both considered part of this climb Russian roulette, particularly rapping the damn thing. If I die and the citizens can collect from my estate to clean up the mess I caused by venturing onto this piece of shit face, then they damn well should. If a piece of rock gets dislodged on rap and breaks my ankle and my partner and I are too big of pussies to get me down and out (maybe I don't like the pain or maybe I went up ill prepared withput prescrip pain meds in case I broke a bone) , then yes, we can pay for a rescue, sure, why not. But the expense sure as hell should not be borne by the citizens of Alberta. If in the National Park, then I already paid for it, that part makes sense. I believe all national parks should budget reimb SARS cost into the park admission fees. I believe all local governments who operate SARS should seek reimb from each and every recovery in the wilderness, no matter the circumstances.
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Re: Rescues

Postby SeanReedy » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:32 am

Dow, my quibble might be that you keep arguing for some sort of utopia yourself and sometimes don't demonstrate appreciation for the nuanced differing perspectives. I am most convinced by the realistic, rational solutions posted by you and almost everyone else who has posted. What solutions can be blended into a proposal to put forth and gain momentum on? Also, get a non-hard ass diplomat to help persuade the more casual folks if this gets serious.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:51 am

SeanReedy wrote: Also, get a non-hard ass diplomat to help persuade the more casual folks if this gets serious.


I am afraid that will never happen in this entitlement insisting society of ours. Regardless how diplomatic a persuader you get to attempt to motivate the masses to do so.
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Re: Rescues

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:24 am

Dow Williams wrote:Rescues should be a liability of the individual(s) needing rescue, managed no different than how a particular jurisdiction collects on a speeding ticket, through the courts via a fine.

Would this policy be limited to climbng or include boating accidents, car accidents, house fires, lost Altheimers patients, lost children with developmental disabilities, etc?
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Re: Rescues

Postby Greg Enright » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:23 am

While I respect that Dow wishes to be personally responsible for any rescue operation that would be instigated in his behalf, I strongly disagree that every one should be held financially responsible for rescues that they may require.

Sure, some rescues are frivolous, but not a majority by any means. Most folks just end up in a situation that they cannot handle themselves. Maybe a medical emergency pops up unexpectantly, or some accident occurs, or they just plain get lost. We, as a society, have developed a system that will help those folks when they need it most, sharing the cost with others that might get into the same situation.

I know that some wish to opt out of the shared financial responsibility, but in my 27 years of search and rescue work, I never found anyone who chose to opt out when we arrived. In fact, I think one reason that government gets bigger all the time is that folks who say they are conservative always have something they feel they are entitled to from government, and when they need SAR, they are entitled to SAR.

Here in Mono County, visitors pay a room tax, or campground tax, that funds services visitors expect to have when things go bad during their vacation. The taxes help our small county provide paramedics, search and rescue, and law enforcement services to the huge numbers of tourists that we see every year.
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Re: Rescues

Postby norco17 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:52 am

I think a bigger issue is education. Like chief said earlier many of the people that require (or think they require) a rescue have no business being where they are in the first place. I lifeguard at a reservoir during the summer to pay for school and all of the rescues we get should never have happened. We have a rule at the lake "stay where you can touch" and regardless of this fact we still make hundreds of rescues each year. Now I am not advocating a stay on the trail or we will ticket you type of system, but knowing ones own limits is important and knowing how to get ones own ass out of the fire is even more important. Go to any crag and look at what gear people have on their harness. How many have enough stuff on them to escape a belay?

Charging for a rescue after the fact doesn't help prevent people from being stupid in the first place. Although it does make sense if we are looking at this from a strictly fiscal point of view. SPOTS are like lifeguards they simply encourage people to do stupid things, because someone will be right there to fix their problem.
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