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

Re: Rescues

Postby norco17 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:57 am

Greg Enright wrote: but in my 27 years of search and rescue work, I never found anyone who chose to opt out when we arrived.

I have as a lifeguard. I hand the guy my buoy and ask him his name he says no and pushes the buoy away and sinks straight to the bottom. Reached down grabbed him pulled him up and the same thing happened again.
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Re: Rescues

Postby mattyj » Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:33 pm

Dow Williams wrote: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.


The anecdotal evidence from agencies that get a lot of PLB calls - and most don't - is that most SPOT and PLB activations so far have been "legit". Maybe not by your or my standards, but relative to calls from other sources (cell phone, runner out to the TH, etc). They do seem to attract the worst examples of abuse, perhaps because there's no way to communicate the nature of the emergency.

HOWEVER, I think it's only a matter of time. And while I don't want to absolve individuals of their responsibility, I think it's fair to place some blame on Globalstar's (manufacturer of SPOT) marketing department. They basically sell the thing as "you push the button and a helicopter shows up". Not only does their marketing encourage individual recklessness, it also oversells the response you can expect. Lots of places will send a ground crew, it may take them a while to reach you, and the carryout will be a long, likely uncomfortable litter ride. If SPOT marketed that rather than a magical helo ride, people might be a little more hesitant to "push the button". Instead, they're busy touting the benefits of highmarking 65 degree slopes in the backcountry when you can't even climb back on after falling off.

Dow, every time one of these big SARs elevates the charge-for-rescue discussion amongst the couch potato crowd, mandatory PLB use also floats up into the discussion - as if a PLB is the only piece of essential safety equipment you'll ever need. Mark my words, if we get charge-for-rescue it may come hand in hand with stiff penalties for not lugging a SPOT with you.
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Re: Rescues

Postby mvs » Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:51 pm

Remember, if you break a bone climbing with Dow, you are just a big pussy if you want to call for rescue :D.

But seriously, why can't SAR get a little tough with people. Why can't there be a conversation like "you say you have no flashlight? Well, it's a fine weather night, you'll be fine. Come down in the morning." Who says you have to enable this movement towards infantilization that you rightfully enough decry? And I do suspect this is kind of a beers-around-the-campfire discussion where the truly godawful anecdotes are looming larger than the reality of the situation. If the purpose is to scare away would-be babies-o-the-hills, I hope the tough talk works but I doubt those people are reading forums designed to improve skills...
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Re: Rescues

Postby Z-Man » Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:54 pm

I've been doing SAR in the PNW for several years now and agree with much of what has been said in defense of the current system. I think mattyj in particular has described scenarios and systems that I recognize from my own experience and surgent points out well that just about every county I have recreated in has fully funded, staffed, and effective sar ops. Of all the public health and safety issues currently causing societal problems SAR is about the least broken I can think of.

mvs wrote:But seriously, why can't SAR get a little tough with people. Why can't there be a conversation like "you say you have no flashlight? Well, it's a fine weather night, you'll be fine. Come down in the morning." Who says you have to enable this movement towards infantilization that you rightfully enough decry? And I do suspect this is kind of a beers-around-the-campfire discussion where the truly godawful anecdotes are looming larger than the reality of the situation. If the purpose is to scare away would-be babies-o-the-hills, I hope the tough talk works but I doubt those people are reading forums designed to improve skills...


This happens a fair amount already believe it or not. Plus as has been pointed out several times by far the majority of sar operations are handled by volunteers so sending out a response is a very minor cost.
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Re: Rescues

Postby TimB » Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:12 pm

Interesting thread, to say the least.
Having just made the decision to purchase a SPOT type device, I am a bit surprised to learn of the incidences of people using them as sort of a 'get out of jail free' card, if you will-never even occurred to me.

If I am in a life-threatening situation*, you bet your ass I will punch the "SOS" key-but only then!
To do otherwise is to waste taxpayer $$$ as well as put the SAR folks in harms way for no good reason.

Just my 0.02 dollars worth.

*by which I mean something like a broken leg, etc., especially when I am solo(which is most of the time).
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:18 pm

Z-Man wrote:I've been doing SAR in the PNW for several years now .


Who do you operate with/for?

Z-Man wrote:Plus as has been pointed out several times by far the majority of sar operations are handled by volunteers so sending out a response is a very minor cost.


Law Enforcement/Military Helo Air support, costs an evg of $5500- $8500 per hour, depending on A/C type. Avg Air OP is 4-8 hours. This particular resource is not figured into the local Counties SAR annual Operating Fund/Budget. Hmmmmmm....
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Re: Rescues

Postby mvs » Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:35 pm

I thought that the military helo ops weren't a straight expense but instead get chalked up to training time. In short, they need to fly those things and train. A mission comes along and thats training. If you look at it that way then the issue is less inflammatory, or am I missing something?
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:48 pm

They are not an expense to the County.

Nope, not training perse as that is their primary operating duty when called on for "Support" in an actual SAR Operation.

They will use the "Training" verbiage to document a "SAR of Opporunity" in which they, the helo crew, will initiate an operation on their own while on a training evolution, without a formal request that comes from the State Office of Emergency Services per NASAR Operating Protocols.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Z-Man » Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:03 pm

A5RP wrote:Who do you operate with/for?


I don't speak on behalf of any sar group, only myself, but I have been a very active member of Seattle Mountain Rescue for 6 years.

A5RP wrote:Law Enforcement/Military Helo Air support, costs an evg of $5500- $8500 per hour, depending on A/C type. Avg Air OP is 4-8 hours. This particular resource is not figured into the local Counties SAR annual Operating Fund/Budget. Hmmmmmm....


MVS is right that military helos are considered paid for through training hours and all of the military crews I've worked with love the missions. County air resources on the other hand are typically not covered by training hours and those costs are substantial as A5RP points out. Regardless the low volume, maybe 1 air mission per 2 weeks, and in one of the busiest sar counties in the US no less, means it's a pretty small item on the county sheriff's annual budget. Our average air ops are also much shorter than you are quoting, probably 2 - 4 hours on average.

I'm unable to copy and paste with adobe reader at work, so I'll post the Mountain Rescue Association's position on charge for rescue later today, it can be found on page 88 of this publicly available document here, http://mra.org/images/stories/members/P ... 121511.pdf . If someone else wants to take the initiative they can post it sooner. For what it's worth the Mountain Rescue Association was the first national body to organize search and rescue in the US, and I think any major change to the way wilderness search and rescue operates in the US, at least as far as climber-types are concerned, will involve the MRA.
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Re: Rescues

Postby MoapaPk » Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:53 pm

Locally, I can think of just one SAR call initiated from a SPOT; that was a guy who went backpacking at 10000', and woke up to three feet of soft snow. He had the gear to stay put, but no snowshoes, and even got a cell signal out with a call that he was basically OK. Another group got stuck on Devils'Thumb on Charleston Peak in late spring, but I think that was a cell call, and they simply weathered the night until more favorable conditions came.

Most SAR calls in Red Rock (southern Nevada, RRCNCA) seem to be initiated by cell phone. It used to be that most were for rock climbers, or turistos who wandered out on the ledges and got stuck or fell. In the last 5 years, 6 of my friends (or friends of friends) have been involved in accidents that required SAR responses, while "scrambling" -- no technical climbing involved. All communicated by cell, usually with someone else in the party running down to the lower canyon, or calling from a ridge. Even though the local SAR has a no-charge policy, 3 were charged; the conditions for the charge are not clear, but in one case, the charges started the moment the person was transferred from SAR custody to an ambulance, so it really isn't an SAR charge.

The SPOT premium 911 service (an extra $10 a year) is insured by Lloyds of London.

I'm absolutely amazed there are not more SAR calls. I was once with a party that included a woman who had bad altitude sickness, and it was all I could do to keep her friend from calling 911. She got down by just walking, and once below 10000', was much better. I've come across people who were stumbling wildly at 11000', and when I asked them if they needed help, they just said they would persevere, slowly. I've given away a lot of headlamps.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Mountainjeff » Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:52 am

As a current SAR volunteer I am strongly opposed to charging for my services. I understand the desire to charge people for their stupidity but there are legitimate reasons for us not charging.
1) Charging would nullify all laws (at least in WA) that protect us from lawsuits. Currently, in my state, we can only be sued in cases of gross negligence. If we charged, we would have to take out more insurance which would cost more than our current operating budget.
2) Would you charge for all rescues, or just for stupid people? What is stupid? I probably have done stupid things and just been lucky enough to not get maimed (havent we all...?). You cant really draw the line for what can be charged for and what will not be.
3) People will be less likely to call early if they are afraid of paying. I would much rather rescue live patients than dead ones because their family waited too long to call. It happens some time because people think rescues will cost.
4) We all join knowing that we will use our own money to rescue idiots as well as careful individuals who otherwise injure themselves. I love what I do and I have no need to be paid for it.

I will quit SAR if my state starts charging for rescues. If you have been a recipient of a rescue or feel strngly about supporting SAR, please donate to your local unit. My unit has been successfully supported for many years by private donors and corporate grants. Also consider joining your local unit. It is a great way to give back to the community and is great fun (plus you can use rescues as an excuse to skip work...)
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Re: Rescues

Postby Kahuna » Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:59 am

Z-Man wrote:MVS is right that military helos are considered paid for through training hours and all of the military crews I've worked with love the missions. County air resources on the other hand are typically not covered by training hours and those costs are substantial as A5RP points out. Regardless the low volume, maybe 1 air mission per 2 weeks, and in one of the busiest sar counties in the US no less, means it's a pretty small item on the county sheriff's annual budget. Our average air ops are also much shorter than you are quoting, probably 2 - 4 hours on average.



Where is this info from... your personal active Air Ops operator experience?

You are aware that I flew NAVY SAR for over 8 years both out of NAS LEMOORE and NAS FALLON as well as in ANTARCTICA. All entailed mostly civilian assistance responses.

Not one "Dispatched" assist call was ever classified as a "training" evolution. They were and still are recorded as actual SAR OP. This is necessary for certification purposes amongst the crew and proper US NAVY SAR record keeping protocols

When I flew with Lemoore SAR, we had 1-2 call outs per day on avg from Spring thru the Fall seasons, to assist both the SEKI and YOSAR Units. As well as local USFS locations on the westside Sierra along with assisting NAS China Lake SAR with the Whitney/Williamson regions. Our avg op lasted 6-10 hours with most of those considered "turn times" as we never shut down. Only for fueling did we some times shut down. We would actually "Hot Pump" as often as we could to curtail our down time. If the A/C does not shut down while on the deck, it is considered flight operating time for record purpose.

Oh we dug getting called out and gave 110% for each. But I can tell, we would laugh our asses off at the Club that evening at the stupid ass shit saw and experienced for many of those call outs.

I got some of the craziest stories. One that comes to mind is being called out to the summit of Mount Whitney in Aug of 83'. The Crabtree Ranger relayed to SEKI dispatch that a young lady was bleeding uncontrollably and needed immediate extract. We burned and turned to the summit. Landed on the western escarpment, kept turning due to the altitude etc. I got out and ran to the awaiting ranger and possible victim. Bottom line, she had forgot her tampons, was doing her monthly deal and wanted to get back to her car down at the portal so as not to get embarrassed. Well, the HAC lost it when I returned to the helo to notify him of the situ. We loaded her up and took her down to Lone Pine airport. She through a fit cus now she had to find a ride to the portal. Whatever!

Got tons more along these comical yet dangerous lines....

EDIT: ADDTION
Last edited by Kahuna on Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Vitaliy M. » Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:16 am

People should be responsible for their actions in outdoors.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Dow Williams » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:41 am

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.
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Re: Rescues

Postby Z-Man » Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:09 am

A5RP wrote:Where is this info from... your personal active Air Ops operator experience?

You are aware that I flew NAVY SAR for over 8 years both out of NAS LEMOORE and NAS FALLON as well as in ANTARCTICA. All entailed mostly civilian assistance responses.

Not one "Dispatched" assist call was ever classified as a "training" evolution. They were and still are recorded as actual SAR OP. This is necessary for certification purposes amongst the crew and proper US NAVY SAR record keeping protocols

When I flew with Lemoore SAR, we had 1-2 call outs per day on avg from Spring thru the Fall seasons, to assist both the SEKI and YOSAR Units. As well as local USFS locations on the westside Sierra along with assisting NAS China Lake SAR with the Whitney/Williamson regions. Our avg op lasted 6-10 hours with most of those considered "turn times" as we never shut down. Only for fueling did we some times shut down. We would actually "Hot Pump" as often as we could to curtail our down time. If the A/C does not shut down while on the deck, it is considered flight operating time for record purpose.

Oh we dug getting called out and gave 110% for each. But I can tell, we would laugh our asses off at the Club that evening at the stupid ass shit saw and experienced for many of those call outs.

I got some of the craziest stories. One that comes to mind is being called out to the summit of Mount Whitney in Aug of 83'. The Crabtree Ranger relayed to SEKI dispatch that a young lady was bleeding uncontrollably and needed immediate extract. We burned and turned to the summit. Landed on the western escarpment, kept turning due to the altitude etc. I got out and ran to the awaiting ranger and possible victim. Bottom line, she had forgot her tampons, was doing her monthly deal and wanted to get back to her car down at the portal so as not to get embarrassed. Well, the HAC lost it when I returned to the helo to notify him of the situ. We loaded her up and took her down to Lone Pine airport. She through a fit cus now she had to find a ride to the portal. Whatever!

Got tons more along these comical yet dangerous lines....


Sounds like some crazy times back in the day, glad to hear you lived through it. I am quoting an NAS Whidbey crew I worked with on a mission in the Cascades once regarding the training hours, maybe they were paraphrasing and just trying to reassure us that the cost was negligible. As far as the operational hours for my own county's aircraft I don't think I'm underplaying or exaggerating their time in the air, they are used on a minority of rescues, the weather up here probably has something to do with that, and are extremely useful when they are. As has been stated multiple times already National Parks Service is significantly different than outside the parks and are much busier, made up of full-time paid employees, and have their costs generally factored into any fees associated with the park.

The use of military aircraft is quite a bit less than it has been in the past I expect, which I have been told is largely due to the reduced availability of many units due to deployments, except maybe in MRNP where they rely heavily on Army resources for high-altitude stuff. The MAST program for instance has been explicitly said to be unavailable more often than not in the past ten years due to deployments.

Here is a slightly paraphrased cut of the Mountain Rescue Association statement I alluded to earlier, on page 90 of the document I linked, not 88, sorry for any confusion:
A. ...In an effort to give back to the community, to defray public agencies' costs and to keep taxes down, MRA teams have been performing the bulk of all search and rescue operations for the past 35 years. These operations are done without charge to the victim.

B. The MRA firmly believes that training and education are the keystones in the solution to this issue. We believe that the individual must accept responsibility for his or her actions, and that training in proper outdoor skills and for self-rescue might be the quickest and most effective method of resolving most search and rescue situations.

C. No one, however, should ever be made to feel they must delay in notifying the proper authorities of a search or rescue incident out of fear of possible charges. We ask all outdoor groups and organizations to join us in sending this mountain safety message.

D. We recognize that the National Park Service and other governmental agencies have a need to address defraying their costs and we would welcome any opportunity to be involved in discussion of solutions or alternative to the charge for rescue issue. The expert volunteer teams of the MRA are proud to be able to provide search and rescue at no cost and have no plans to charge in the future.

E. The Mountain Rescue Association is "a volunteer organization dedicated to saving lives through rescue and mountain safety education."


I believe the personal responsibility piece in this is referring to the limitations of relying on an all-volunteer group to perform SAR missions rather than professional teams such as is the case with the NPS and in most of Europe. If charge for rescue were to be implemented it would fundamentally alter the way search and rescue is performed in the US. As was noted by mountainjeff good samaritan laws as currently written would no longer apply to protect the volunteers, costs for the rescuers would go up and almost certainly deplete the ranks of volunteers, and due to most people's inability to cover a $10000+ rescue cost outdoor recreationists would likely end up paying a use fee either through a private insurer or directly to the government to defray the cost of SAR.

On Mount Adams the USFS is trying to break into the game with the volcano pass, which I was told by the USFS was primarily there to fund a climbing ranger program, and could represent the future of search and rescue on USFS land. If you like paying $15 on every visit to public land, which already has a search and rescue program in place run by volunteers at very little cost to the taxpayer, then by all means voice your support for the USFS fee-based climber-ranger program so it can expand and become the standard for SAR.

I'm all for climbers policing themselves, and think the current system is still working well and should be continued.
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