Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
Norman_Clyde

Letter to P-I blames climbers for rescue costs

Recommended Posts

Doesn't YOSAR charge for rescues if the parties needing rescued do not have adequate equipment?

 

I seem to recall they are either charged money or for criminal wrecklessness.

 

YOSAR doesn't have policy of charging for SAR, but the NPS can and sometimes does assign a "fine" for creating a hazardous situation or for negligence. The bail schedule may vary, but usually involves a trip to the magistrate (who decides.) The NPS has cited some climbers for this offense.

 

I recall one example; a climber soloed the DC without a permit (etc), ignored RMI guides and rangers who warned him to turn around, and then called for a rescue on the summit claiming he was too tired to descend. Rangers were sent to the summit to escort him down.

 

For the most part, the visitor really has to make some bad decisions to get this sort of ticket. Generally speaking, the bail isn't nearly as expensive as the rescue.

 

BTW, snaf.gifsnaf.gifsnaf.gifsnaf.gifsnaf.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dru, ignore the dark one. There is no summit—clear your mind of questions.

 

evils3d.gifevils3d.gifevils3d.gifevils3d.gif Are you still hiding out in some bog Jedi Yoda???

 

On a real note, this editorial does deserve a response, but the climate isn't the best for our sport right now with the "perceptions" of numerous rescues occurring... And there have been a number of rescues this week... In fact...

 

That said, I'd be more than happy to lend any writing/editorial-skills to this letter. It's a complex topic, and there are sound reasons why it's NOT in the best interest of the public to charge at this time.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a complex topic, and there are sound reasons why it's NOT in the best interest of the public to charge at this time.

 

I'm guessing liability insurance is one of those reasons? If one has to pay for services, then it seems like you have to be worried about malpractice issues. Granted, someone can sue you no matter what, but if you're in effect charging for the service, well...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dru, ignore the dark one. There is no summit—clear your mind of questions.

 

evils3d.gifevils3d.gifevils3d.gifevils3d.gif Are you still hiding out in some bog Jedi Yoda???

 

On a real note, this editorial does deserve a response, but the climate isn't the best for our sport right now with the "perceptions" of numerous rescues occurring... And there have been a number of rescues this week... In fact...

 

That said, I'd be more than happy to lend any writing/editorial-skills to this letter. It's a complex topic, and there are sound reasons why it's NOT in the best interest of the public to charge at this time.

 

Yoda is living in a Russian dacha and sipping fine cognac. I too would like to participate in this letter writing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm guessing liability insurance is one of those reasons? If one has to pay for services, then it seems like you have to be worried about malpractice issues. Granted, someone can sue you no matter what, but if you're in effect charging for the service, well...

 

That is one of many issues that add up to a bad deal for the public. Once fees come into play a service is expected to be provided. Currently rescue is a "best efforts" attempt in most of the Cascades, and in my opinion, is in the spirit of citizens helping each other when they need it.

 

There is a core of very highly-qualified people filling this role for free, and for a few, a very minimal salary. Obviously some are less qualified than others, but there are many who could be paid for their skill and fitness level. Yet they choose to do this for free because it gives them something that can't be obtained with money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
....it gives them something that can't be obtained with money.

 

Love? Justice? A great tasting less filling beer?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
....it gives them something that can't be obtained with money.

 

Love? Justice? A great tasting less filling beer?

 

Better first dates.

 

Oh... wait. I guess that CAN be obtained with money.

 

But really... I guess the thing that irks me about the whole sorry old "make the climbers pay" argument is the idea that people in society only should pay for EXACTLY what they use - nothing more, nothing less. It scares me to think that we're headed back to the days where the Fire Department wouldn't put out a fire at your house unless you had one of those little emblems that said you have paid your "dues" to the Department. (No... I don't know exactly when that was, but I'm thinking it was early 1900s. My dad has one of the emblems/ornament thingies in his fire fighting memorabilia.)

 

For once, I'd love to see one of these letter writers quote the actual "taxpayer cost" for a typical rescue. Sure... there is a cost associated with it, but I have a feeling it is sooooo small when looked at on a per capita basis that it would virtually disappear.

Edited by knelson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I sent a response in to the PI today. Basically said that less than 20% of rescues are climbers, majority of rescuers are volunteers, many of whom are climbers, sheriff's deputies would be paid whether working the rescue or eating donuts (i've witnessed both being done at the same time), military uses training $, etc, ad nauseum.

 

Here's another perspective:

http://noe.orf.at/stories/44518/

 

Whoops, with translation:

The Austrian Mountain Rescue is complaining that more and more rescues are not getting paid for and blames this on the increasing number of searches for "East Block" citizens climbing in the Alps. Mountain rescue in Lower Austria gets called out about 900 times each year with each mission costing between 1,000 and 3,000 Euros. Search and rescues for Austrian, German and Swiss citizens are for the most part covered by private insurance companies and are not a problem. The situation is not the same for climbers and hikers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia or Hungary where is is just about impossible to collect and of the costs of their rescues once they return home. The ultimate goal is to prevent accidents and incidents from happening. Reinhold Doerflinger, the President of Austrian Mountain Rescue, is asking the government to come up with some kind of agreements with these foreign countries and is also seeking closer cooperation with the mountain rescue organizations in these

countries in an effort to better educate their countrymen on being safe in the mountains.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those of you who haven't read it yet, the AAC report that Cobra Commander and archenemy referred to in their earlier posts on this thread, and originally brought to our collective attention by barkernews almost two months ago (credit given where credit is due), is quite illuminating and will answer many of your more recent questions on this thread.

 

It is well written, appears to be targeted to those who would promote charging for rescues, and is highly annotated with 4 dozen footnotes citing all manner of sources. I highly recommend it for your nighttime reading list, if only to answer those assholes like Mr. Leeman that ask you why we shouldn't have to pay for our own rescues. Tools like him just chap my butt! madgo_ron.gif

 

...there is a cost associated with it, but I have a feeling it is sooooo small when looked at on a per capita basis that it would virtually disappear.

 

knelson:

Paraphrasing from the report for you... "...the NPS spent $3.5 million in 2003 for personnel, supplies, aircraft, and vessels to respond to 3,108 SAR missions, an average of $1,116 per mission... ...during the six-year period from 1993 to 1998, SAR costs (NPS) system wide accounted for 0.15% to 0.2% of the entire NPS budget, or roughly 1.5 cents out of total costs of $6 per visitor to run the NPS system."

 

Note that this is all SAR missions in the NPS system during this timeframe, not specifically climbing-related missions! Imagine how small this fraction would be if we limit the data to climber-only SAR missions... Yeah yeah, Mr. Leeman, we climbers are just killing the taxpayers... rolleyes.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...My dad later told me that contributing to his relief at my son's belated appearance was the knowledge that, if a search did have to be mobilized, there is an automatic $5K charge to the party involved. I never tried to verify this, but he lives in CA and goes to Yos all the time, so it's probably correct.

 

CA has a law that went into effect this year, but the standard for getting nicked is that you would have had to intentionally and willfully entered an area that you knew was closed to the public. Max fine is $12k. They may have had an earlier law that has been superceded...

 

BTW, you're welcome. wave.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a complex topic, and there are sound reasons why it's NOT in the best interest of the public to charge at this time.

 

I'm guessing liability insurance is one of those reasons? If one has to pay for services, then it seems like you have to be worried about malpractice issues. Granted, someone can sue you no matter what, but if you're in effect charging for the service, well...

 

Yes and the SAR managers will have to consider rescue cost as much as they consider rescue safety AND rescue management.

 

After the rescue is over, everyone is going to pour over every expenditure looking for justification. And that can go both ways... i.e. "Why DIDN'T you get a helicopter; you could have saved my brother/son/etc..." OR, "Why DID you get the helicopter? I was fine; your ground team could have rescued me..." There will be pervasive second guessing of all costs.

 

Imagine inserting lawyers to sort this out?

 

Now imagine the fire department sending a resident a bill for a fire response b/c they improperly installed the propane heater w/o a building permit and it burned the house down... Or maybe they will bill DUI's for the PD time involved to handle the arrest. Obviously that's negligent? The list of what everyone else perceives as careless and reckless could get very very long.

 

BTW, we've got another SAR on the Emmons Glacier at 13,500 feet... Thus I'm up late monitoring the radio and posting on CC.COM.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BTW, we've got another SAR on the Emmons Glacier at 13,500 feet... Thus I'm up late monitoring the radio and posting on CC.COM.

 

goddamn, Mike, you've had a busy few days, haven't you? Good luck, and I hope that it works out OK for all involved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i have several thought on this isssue.

 

1. the complaint raises its stupid head about once a year and then goes away. responding to it might fan the flames

 

2. as mentioned already, the costs are minimal and provide valuable training to military personnel

 

3. there are many, many recues at sea to commercial and non-commercial craft. there is no cost to those who are rescued, why should mountaineers be any different?

 

4. instituting a charge could result ina loved one or those in need of rescue waiting until a rescue is too late because they are afraid of the costs. The sars here in canada make this point over and over again. Waiting to make that call kills.

 

5. once we open this can of worms we need to analyse every rescue situation, whether it be in the city, wilderness or at sea and decide whether or not the people in need of rescue contributed to their situation. were they engaging in 'risky behaviour' such as rock climbing, ice fishing, driving drunk, eating badly, smoking, wearing a seatbelt, sailing, etc?

 

6. deciding which activities are risky and which are not is nigh near impossible.

 

7what would the world be like if everest had never been climbed? what if nobody had ever been to the poles or humans had never been to the moon?

 

We, as a society, cherish and encourage risk taking endeavours. We live vicariously through the lives of those who push the boundaries in adventure, science, art and even commerce. we all gain a sense of purpose and possibilty in our own lives by knowing that the impossible is possible.

 

Charging people for rescue is like saying that we do not honour what you do and will punish you if you need help. This is the wrong message. We need to encourage people to get out of their backyards and explore their limits, seek solace and friendship in nature and wild places, re-energize through selfish and perhaps risky activities and perhaps use that energy to revitalize their own and others lives.

 

'nuff said. my recommendationis to ignore the ignoramusses. the issue will go away. those in charge have no interest in persuing it.

 

"a small step for man, a giant step for mankind"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
knelson:

Paraphrasing from the report for you... "...the NPS spent $3.5 million in 2003 for personnel, supplies, aircraft, and vessels to respond to 3,108 SAR missions, an average of $1,116 per mission... ...during the six-year period from 1993 to 1998, SAR costs (NPS) system wide accounted for 0.15% to 0.2% of the entire NPS budget, or roughly 1.5 cents out of total costs of $6 per visitor to run the NPS system."

 

Thanks sobo. Those are the type of numbers I've wondered about. I'll give the full report a read at lunch today.

 

I'm guessing the cost figures for the NPS would actually be higher per rescue, than say a rescue in a Wilderness area. NPS rescue figures probably include wages for climbing rangers - even though those wages are like at the GS-0.25 level! Those resources are not available for rescues outside the NPS, so I'm guessing those rescue costs are even lower.

 

Guess I'll read the report before I start rambling on again...

 

-kurt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW, we've got another SAR on the Emmons Glacier at 13,500 feet... Thus I'm up late monitoring the radio and posting on CC.COM.

 

Everyone ok I hope?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...[NPS] resources are not available for rescues outside the NPS...

 

Well, not entirely true, but it is really rare. Why, just this past July 4 holiday weekend there was a call-out for a lost hiker on the PCT between White Pass and Chinook Pass. Husband/wife team did a car shuttle and then each started at opposite ends with the intent to meet in the middle and go back out the same day. Husband made it to Chinook that same evening, wife didn't make it to White. Husband took car to White River ranger station that night and alerted the NPS rangers. NPS fielded a hasty team by midnight to the PCT (which is outside the Park). Due to the NPS's obvious obligations to the Park (and over a busy holiday weekend), they had to go back early the next morning, but by then YSAR had called us out. We found her Saturday morning after her second night out, alive and a bit hungry. Somehow she ended up getting off the PCT and onto the American Ridge Trail. Point is, sometimes the NPS will respond outside the Park if they can spare the folks, although it is uncommon. Gator probably has some statistics that would indicate when the last time that happened.

 

BTW all, I got an auto-email from the P-I saying they got my letter. It says that LTEs are limited to 200 words, so if mine shows up, it will have been edited by at least 50 percent. rolleyes.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to contradict the general truth that most of the choppers used in rescues are military and use the trip for training, but that does not appear to have been the case this time. From the Skagit Valley Herald

 

The rangers guided the first helicopter, an Airlift Northwest medical helicopter, to the scene at 7:58 a.m. Monday. McCourt was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the area's largest trauma hospital.

 

Hi Line Helicopters Inc., a company in Darrington that contracts with the National Park Service on search and rescue missions and wilderness flights, flew a doctor to the climbers shortly after the medical chopper left.

 

I only mention it because if any of the letters to the editor do get published someone might try to thow this back in our faces. Hopefully the editors and readers of the PI don't read the Herald.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

robert,

Not to "throw this back in your face" or anything like that, but the event that caused Mr. Leeman to complain about the recent multitude of rescues occurred on Mt. Rainier (although he casually mentions other local mountains, yes), not in the NCNP (inferred from his letter to the editor and the timing of the publishing of that letter).

 

But the fact remains, and the statistics prove, that mountain/rock climbers require far fewer rescues than other perceived "low-risk" groups. What seems to irk the general public is that a mountain rescue becomes a high-profile media event, and people are under the mistaken impression that they are subsidizing the rescue cost. What they don't understand is that there are skads of other low-profile missions going on every day that they and the media never hear about (or at least, don't cover) which end up costing more overall than mountain rescues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I assume that the expenses for the medical (not military) chopper are billed to the subject's health insurance?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Generally I believe they are. I have a buddy that works at AirLift. If it is any different I'll let y'all know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sobo,

I totally agree with you on the costs. I just noticed in the Herald's article that they were not military and they NCNP even had a contract with a commercial outfit. It was more of a warning that this information might be used to discredit the letters even though they are certainly more fact based that his knee jerk.

Robert

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Point taken. Ya know, you'd think that there'd be a way for the AAC or the AF or the MRA to get this info out to the press and the general public so that when tools like Mr. Leeman crop up, he can be sprayed like a weed and made to go back into his hole. I guess if these groups have already done that, then the public truly does have a short (and selective) memory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Doesn't really matter anyway. Fact is, this complainer is not paying for anything. It's all volunteer, except for the sheriff's deputy that serves as the laison from the County to SAR. That's the only paid position in SAR/MR that I know of.

 

In april i was rescued off of a mountain in LA county. As far as I know, when a county chopper is involved, the county taxes cover the cost, however after being rescued I made a significant donation to LA County SAR, which covered the chopper bill, and after talking to the sheriff, he said that if worst comes to worst, the county would pay for the bill, however there are enough donors to cover the bills usually.

obviously this only applies to county. when its military, as someone else stated, its covered as training.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People dying sell newspapers. Whackos spouting off do as well. Soon, a two-headed cow in Mt Vernon will take this issue's space in the paper. People seem to remember the negative crap even after its been debunked (see polical campaigns). The paper has no interest in the issue or they would write a fact-based story. So they'll probably edit someone's letter to make them sound like just as big a whacko as the first guy. That will sell more papers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×