Who Should Pay for Search and Rescue in the BC? - Mountain Buzz

Go Back   Mountain Buzz > Other Chatter > Winter Buzz

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-09-2006   #1
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 112
Who Should Pay for Search and Rescue in the BC?

This was a letter to the editor Jan 9th in the Rocky

Irresponsibility shouldn't be rewarded

In an age in which many hospitals and public health establishments are being burdened by the people who cannot afford to pay for services provided, I can't believe that your editorial of Jan. 3 ("Don't bill those who need rescue"), would advocate not billing those who need rescue.

There are people who need to be rescued from a situation they did not knowingly create, such as becoming disoriented in backcountry skiing, boarding or hiking. Those people may deserve a pass. But those people who knowingly create a situation unsafe for themselves and others, endangering the lives of people who have to search for and rescue them, deserve to be charged every penny the operation costs.

Being young and unable to afford it is an out you will allow? Your advocating abandonment of personal responsibility is so irresponsible in the face of the unprecedented resources being used by those who don't have to be responsible, whether skiers or illegal immigrants.

Most people are deterred by the prospect of facing a huge bill as the consequence of their actions. Those who are not certainly don't deserve to have it be forgiven merely because there is a fund to assist people who are rescued. That fund should be reserved for people who don't knowingly endanger their lives and the rescuers. It is high time to get back to expecting people to be accountable for their actions. If we don't, we will face the cost to society of seeing some of our emergency facilities close, as has happened in the states bordering Mexico.

Don't bill those who need rescue
Boost fines for boundary violators
Email this story | Print January 3, 2006
The 1979 Ski Safety Act established a fine of up to $300 for boundary violators, which was serious money then. But it's not now and skiers who get lost beyond the boundaries of a resort often cost the local sheriff a lot of money to rescue. Maybe the threat of a serious fine might discourage those inclined to stray.
Rep. Gary Lindstrom, the Breckenridge Democrat now running for governor, has said he'll sponsor a bill to increase the fine to $500 or even higher. It's a good idea and we hope his colleagues sign on.

The wrong approach would be to bill those rescued for the often substantial cost of the search. For instance, Summit County Sheriff John Minor said the other day that he might send bills to two out-of-bounds boarders that his office had to rescue in separate overnight efforts recently.

The practical problem with this approach is that young violators are unlikely to have the resources to cover rescue efforts that often call upon dozens of searchers and a helicopter or two. But there's a more serious objection, too: Rescuing lost citizens who might otherwise perish is one of government's basic responsibilities involving public safety. Start charging for it, and you might as well impose a surcharge on anyone dialing 911.

There's no law prohibiting counties from charging for rescues; it's just a bad idea.

Besides, Colorado already has in place a pretty good system to help sheriffs and volunteer organizations pay for the cost of rescuing lost hunters, fisherman, snowmobilers, hikers and the like. It's the Search and Rescue Fund administered by the Department of Local Affairs.

The fund takes in about $400,000 a year from the 25-cent premium that hunters and fishermen pay for their annual licenses, plus the $3 fee that hikers are encouraged to spend on an annual search-and-rescue card. That card is available at sporting goods stores and through various outdoor groups.

From the revenue, the fund pays out $100,000 or more each year to help counties with the costs of specific rescue missions.

What's left over is used for pay for rescue training and equipment.

Most of the money comes from fishermen, followed by hunters. But hikers are contributing a larger percentage each year, and that's a good sign. True, those who haven't bought the card get rescued too, but believe it or not, there's a growing sense of responsibility in Colorado's recreation community. More people recognize that rescue efforts might not burden local government nearly so much if the costs were spread widely among outdoor enthusiasts.

chadmckenzie26 is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 01-09-2006   #2
WhiteLightning's Avatar
Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 971
Everyone should get a fishing or hunting license or a hiker card that is going to ever travel in the BC.

If we started charging those rescued based on much stupidity was involved, it could cause all kinds of problems. I'm not sure what the answer is, but how can you judge if one person was doing something more stupid than another? For some people, snowshoeing alone is risky, for others it is the only way to go. And don't forget, people in the city might think that hiking, kayaking, or backcountry skiing is a stupid risk in the first place. At the other end of the spectrum, freeclimbers think of ropes and belays as "cheating".

The big question is, is SAR a public service like police and fire, or is it a special privlege for rich idiots who can afford to screw up financially? God knows the police don't send you a bill if they respond when someone steals your car. Should they?

There has to be another solution. I think a good one might be that BC travelers are required to have a hiker card. Enforement might be tough, but then again, I've always had fishing licenses, and never been asked to show it.
WhiteLightning is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2006   #3
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 5
I think this is a great topic Chad. I’m not sure of the answer to this or if there really is one but I think allot of it has to do with education about the environment that your in. The gentlemen that was rescued at Monarch this past couple days I’m pretty sure had no intention of going out of bounds but none the less had to be rescued. Do we put him in the same category as the people that knowingly poach a rope and then realize a little to late why the rope was there to begin with? As a patroller I deal with people poaching ropes all the time. I don’t yank their ticket but try to educate them on the dangers and why the ropes are there in the first place. On the other hand they are placing not just themselves in danger but the people that have to save their butts. I’m not totally sure how Europe deals with this issue but I have heard that they post signs stating you are 100% on your own if you decide to go out of bounds. I’m not sure that’s the answer but it might get people thinking before they just wander off into the BC with no knowledge of what they are doing.
skiweasle is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 01-10-2006   #4
earthNRG's Avatar
Snowmass, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 429
I think everyone who uses the BC should buy a "Rescue Card." Same thing as a hiker card, just a different name so people realize what it's for. If you buy the card and end up needing rescue...no charge. If you need rescue and have an expired card...pay 50% of the rescue charge. Get rescued without a card...pay 100% of rescue charge. Pay stations for the cards can be set-up at every trailhead, Forest Service office, supermarkets, ski resorts, kayak (and other sport) shops, etc.
"A witty saying proves nothing."
- Voltaire (1694-1778)
earthNRG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2006   #5
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 224
Great idea! Although not really at all. Sounds like most of the funds would be spent setting up the darn pay stations all across the country.

S&R is not something you can ethically to charge for in my mind.
jeffro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2006   #6
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,820
Anyone who ducks a rope or otherwise knowingly enters an area closed for whatever reason should be tagged with 100% Search & Rescue costs. All others should be treated like hunters or hikers that get lost.

In Europe the ski patrol's meter starts ticking the minute they leave the trail (piste) to go get you, including areas that were BETWEEN marked trails (off-piste). In France they had "Carte Neige" (snow card) that was a ski insurance policy that included all S&R *and* medical expenses including repatriation. My roomate who blew her knee out got a free trip back to New Zealand compliments of the 50 Francs she put down for the policy.

You can also go to an outdoor-oriented retailer and drop $3 for one year or $12 for a 5-year Search and Rescue card.

More info on Colo. Search and Rescue card:

Be careful out there,

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
Andy H. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2006   #7
earthNRG's Avatar
Snowmass, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 429
Yeah Jeff, you're right. My idea would use up all the funds generated. Maybe just have retailers sell the card, and not set up booths at all the trailheads.

Are any of you now, or have you ever been, on a SAR team? I was on the Western State team for a year. It really chides us when stupid people do stupid things. These rescuers risk their lives to save others. For example, on one rescue we nearly lost two of our guys to hypothermea. They both got air-lifted to the Gunnison hospital (thanks to a couple of Blackhawks and crew "loaned" from the National Guard). To make matters worse, one the Blackhawks nearly went down. The guy we were looking for was found drunk in one of the local bars by a Sherriff's Deputy. Apparently he got out of the BC with some party other than his own, and didn't tell anyone.

It's times like that that I feel people should really be charged. But in the end, who can ethically decide who gets charged and who doesn't? SAR is a public service just like the police and fire departments. People shouldn't be charged for needing those services, but the teams do need a subsidy. We all pay taxes to cover the PD and FD. Why not have some means of collecting funds for SAR teams?
"A witty saying proves nothing."
- Voltaire (1694-1778)
earthNRG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2006   #8
DanOrion's Avatar
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,500
What exactly does the SAR card (or a hunting/fishing license) actually cover besides time and materials for the county sheriff during search for your broken/lost/sorry ass?

Don't let this discourage anyone from purchasing a card, even if it's charity, it's one hell of a worthy one.

From the SAR website:
The CORSAR Card Is Not Insurance

The card is not insurance and does not reimburse individuals nor does it pay for medical transport. Medical transport includes helicopter flights or ground ambulance. If aircraft are used as a search vehicle, those costs are reimbursed by the fund. If the aircraft becomes a medical transport due to a medical emergency, the medical portion of the transport is not covered.
DanOrion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2006   #9
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 490
This is a great topic.

I think all rescues in the backcountry should be charged out to the perpetrators. Anything that encourages people to be accountable for their actions is a good thing.

I DO like the idea of optional accessible insurance because this is a product I would purchase; however, this should be a stand alone cost. I buy a fishing license every year so I can fish but mostly because it supports hatchery and habitat efforts (I suck at fishing anyway). I found out a year ago that this also includes the small fee that goes into the S&R fund mentioned in the first post. This is a great idea, but the delivery method bothers me. I could care less about the small pittance that it amounts to, but I don't like being forced to pay for something that I didn't buy. So many costs have gone up because people are comfortable paying a slight fee to fund something unrelated. It dissolves the voting power of my dollar. How much I am willing to pay to fish is not how much I am willing to pay to get rescued. It's ironic because I would gladly pay 10 times the amount they add as a fee to fishing licenses for a rescue card, $2.50.

I am also taking some classes at CU-Denver right now and my bill for two stupid classes was $2,800. Fees on top of the tuition were another $620... for a bunch of things that I don't need. In addition I pay: a bus fee, a bond fee, a cultural events fee, a renewable energy fee, IT fee, student activity fee, student health center fee, a student information fee, student newpaper fee, a student rec fee, a one-time matriculation fee, instructional program fee, and a student services fee. If someone wants something, they'll pay for it, don't just assume they want it and force them to pay for it. Services and products that people don't need should die from funding starvation.

Think about what you buy and where you buy it. Wal-Mart came up here a few weeks ago. I don't like their company practices so I don't shop there. I bought a Toyota Prius because it's effecient. I don't buy Mitsubishi because they clearcut the rainforest. I keep my thermostat low so that we don't have to drill another hole somewhere. A dollar bill is a ballot that everyone who works for a living can understand.
Schizzle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2006   #10
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,113
I am also taking some classes at CU-Denver right now and my bill for two stupid classes was $2,800. Fees on top of the tuition were another $620

So are you then in favor of removing public funding for universities. I, along with many other people in Colorado who don't take classes at CU-Denver or any other public universities, but pay a lot of money to keep your bill down to $2800 for 2 stupid classes. Would you favor a private school cost of $15,000, minus the $620 in student fees?
KSC is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Best search eng for flights I've come across.... thecraw Whitewater Kayaking 1 02-13-2007 02:06 PM
Search feature next to useless Dave Frank Support & Feedback 0 02-03-2007 10:33 AM
Update on the search for Adam keel Whitewater Kayaking 0 05-30-2006 06:48 PM
Boat Search !!! rasdoggy Whitewater Kayaking 4 03-31-2005 06:33 PM
AW in search of artists! awben Whitewater Kayaking 1 01-07-2004 07:48 PM

» Classified Ads
Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:24 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.