Monday, February 23, 2009

Should Hikers Pay For Rescue?
People who are not injured and call for help may be charged $500 or more. My first thought was that is too much. There is a road up to the summit and people actually work up there. How much can it actually cost to get someone down. But, $500 is not the only price.

The $500 fee reflects the cost for employees who have already gone home to come back and drive the 19 miles up the mountain, fighting fierce night-time winds and sometimes snow. If they have to plow or call in more people, the fee could be higher.

Under a fee schedule the council will vote on Tuesday, hikers who call for a ride before workers have gone home would pay $100 each, and hikers who ask for transport from one location to another, such as from the summit to Glen Cove, during regular hours will be charged $20 each.

Glavan said highway rangers and employees aren't trying to become taxis, but they need a fee schedule to get reimbursed from the increasing number of hikers who apparently get summit fever and find themselves high and dry, which happened to five people last year.

Those do not seem like unreasonable fees to me.

Some thoughts on fees for rescue. Too many people are going into the back country with there cell phones, gps, and other high tech gizmo's thinking that stuff will save them. Instead of relying on what used to be common sense. I do not hike with a cell phone as a crutch. Nor do I carry a phone at all. Rangers are compaining about this phenomonon all the time. I like too call it the "I'm too little, I'm to tired phenomonon."

Most municipalities have search and rescue teams and budget for this. If you really need a rescue and are not doing something dangerous or stupid you should not be charged for the rescue. However, that does not give you a get out of fees card. If you require hospitalization or an ambulance ride, you should pay for those services. Also, if a municipality has a problem with the I'm Too little, I'm too tired crowd, they should be allowed to charge. They should also, make it known at trail heads and at outdoor stores in the area. And now a story.

This is a question that I have discussed in many a shelter on the Appalachian Trail over the years. I remember one guy arguing that if the park service charges $5,000 to rescue someone, they might not call and die. Heck, if you do not think your life is worth $5,000, I do not want you in the gene pool. Another hiker proclaimed, I won the Darwin award for that comment.(That was before these Darwin Awards)

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