We’ve all seen the news reports. Somebody does something incredibly dumb, like attempting a solo hike across the Cascade Mountains in winter. People immediately get hopping mad. “That person should have to pay for the cost of the response.”
Makes sense, but like so many things that make sense, there is another view.
If families believe they will be charged for the cost of a search and rescue mission they will likely delay reporting until there’s no other choice. That delay can have serious implications for everybody involved.
If the subject is injured, they are continuing to suffer. If their condition is dire, they could die while waiting for help that hasn’t yet been called.
For searchers, any delay means a much larger search area to cover. If the person is overdue by four hours, we have to search everyplace they could have walked in four hours. If they’ve been gone 24 hours, then we have to search anyplace they could have walked in 24 hours. The search area gets bigger faster than any of us would imagine.
For those reasons, most credible SAR teams are opposed to charging for even the dumbest mistake. That would have a chilling effect on families who legitimately need our services.
That’s not to say a SAR team wouldn’t take a donation from an embarrassed subject, but they won’t ask.
# # #