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Re: Billing For SAR; Will We Ever Make the Public Understand?

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avatar Billing For SAR; Will We Ever Make the Public Understand?
February 01, 2010 06:52PM
In the January issue of Mountain Rescue Association's(MRA) quarterly publication:

By Howard M. Paul

The issue of local, state or the federal government billing victims when SAR units save their life goes back decades.
Because it had become an issue then, the Colorado Search and Rescue Board took a position on the topic in 1987,
led by MRA Legal Counsel and then-CSRB President David Thorson and CSRB Public Affairs Manager and soon...

avatar Re: Billing For SAR; Will We Ever Make the Public Understand?
February 01, 2010 08:06PM
This is a complex issue. Fire, police, and most ambulance city services are paid by taxes and usually performed by paid civil servants. Wilderness rescue is not necessarily a lot different from rescue of domestic residents who experience flood, tornado, fast water, mudslide, avalanche, fire, or other adverse environmental events. Maybe SAR should be similarly funded, but the reasons in the article (adverse publicity, worsened injury due to reluctance to call for help, rescue is routine use of National Guard, SAR personnel are volunteers) do not seem convincing.

I agree, from a comprehensive health care point of view, that standardized funding and service would produce the best system nationwide (just as it would for the entire health system). Unfortunately, the country seems determined to avoid that sort of medical or rescue system. There is a case to be made for those that receive special services due to preventable circumstances to pay for them (For example, I wish motorcycle riders were required to have health insurance, especially if they do not wear helmets.). Given the overall organization of emergency, trauma and medical care currently in our society, I think would be much better for those to benefit from the rescue should participate in a fund to support, at least partially, the system. In a sense, backcountry fees would be the taxes to support the system just as municipal services are paid by property taxes.

I doubt that most backcountry visitors intentionally place themselves in harms way by reckless and impulsive activities, however. Judgment may play an important role in many situations, but it is hard to legislate common sense. The most difficult issue is for volunteers to be killed or injured attempting to assist in rescue. At the very least, there should be some fund to help those rescuers who become victims of their own altruism with life insurance, health insurance or disability compensation.

The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
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