Search and rescue services

I don’t know
I bought VHF expressly for hailing the CG when the @#$% hits the fan. As a last resort. But without that backup, I think I might be more conservative.

Already been used as an argument
here in CT. There is a small group of legislators (Like 2 or 3) that tried to not only force registration on us, but were also aiming to force paddlers to have licenses to paddle.

They tried on several occasions, but 2002 and 2003 were the most outrageous. In 2002 (4 months after 9/11, in fact), one of them sponsored a bill to force us to register and put big numbers on our boats so that terrorists couldn’t use kayaks to blow up waterfront mansions. A large group of paddlers defeated that in committee easily, because it was so transparent.

In 2003, the same legislator came back with the same bill re-worded, and there was also a senate version, both claiming that paddlers were dying “In increasing numbers” and had to be protected from ourselves by registration and licensing, which would somehow magically cure everything. We won that one, too.

So don’t think it can’t happen in your state. You just need a couple of sleazebag legislators who want to make a quick money grab that is not labeled as a “Tax”.

Taxes and such
We all pay for it :smiley:

Maybe it should be like some o those charities out there. No charge, but you are “strongly encouraged to donate.” LOL

Or we could institute a karmic based system. So the SAR guy/gal saves you. You then have to train up as a SAR and work until you save somebody else, and they take your spot, and so on.

Strictly hearsay
but I believe Colorado has a voluntary program. For any activity you can be illed for SAR services. But if you buy a hunting/fishing license a potion of which goes to SAR you are covered. Seems like the bestof both worlds to me.

Merry Christmas


Backlash of Puplic Opinion?
Not unless we paint our kayaks black, install loud pipes, and wear dew rags.

We are all taxpayers, even the idiot or best prepared adventurer. We pay enough taxes, fees and licenses to get by with a freebie or a minimal charge for SAR.

rescue free - transport and recovery not
Seems that in most urban areas, the ambulance service, tow trucks, etc. are run by private companies, and these companies do charge. So the fire department would extract you from the building or car, and that is paid for by tax payers. But the ambulance ride to the hospital would be chargeable. Or the cost to get your car towed up off the cliff you decided to drive over would also be charged to you.

Similar with the coast guard. They will come get you off the sinking boat, but you have to pay to get your boat recovered.

How many respondents here have
been involved in SAR as a volunteer or Pro? This argument surfaces often and elicits the same arguments over and over again.

Interesting thread. I seem to recall
that hikers on the Grand Canyon Trail will be charged for rescue if they require it. I believe this was related to a relatively high frequency of hikers crapping out and needing rescue. A similar principle might be applied to paddling situations. Where rescues are infrequent, it may reflect reasonable behavior on the part of most paddlers, with rescues occurring due to act-of-God misadventure as often as paddler stupidity. But if rescues are fairly frequent, it suggests that most rescued paddlers were over their heads and “asking for it.”

Of course, when the government levies a charge, it seldom reflects good sense and fiscal responsibility.

Only one way
Get involved.

You have to raise awareness among paddlers about safety and also raise the stature of paddlers in general with the powers that be.

I have testified in legislative hearings, spoken at public forums, demoed skills and gear at numerous civic events, and demoed skills and rescue for the state boating authorities and the USCG and Auxiliary at safe boating expos. With the right contacts and approach, you can accomplish a lot of good PR. A little showmanship helps, too.

A calm, rational, and respectful presentation of self and sport goes a long long way to impressing on those who make decisions that there are people who do these things responsibly, and that anyone can do the same if they choose to.

Sea Tow
I wonder if they have something for paddlers and small boats. I could get behind paying a small monthly fee if something like a SPOT was included in a package deal. You send out an SOS, a private concern rescues you or the insurance pays part of your SAR fee.

9.8 paddlers in 10 wouldn’t need it but those taking longer or isolated trips could benefit.

Dumb Idea I know, but don’t worry, I have lots more

No Way. But we have to do our bit.
Paying for SAR would be absurd.

It would delay the call to the SAR people compounding problems. It would take SAR out of the options for some folks.

I have been involved in all sides of SAR.

I have worked with Ground search on a couple of searches for lost people.

I have taken part in exercises with the Coast Guard.

I have helped with casualty photos (drifting face down next to a capsized kayak with ice bergs in the background) for coastguard safety brochures.

I have volunteered time and skills as well as equipment to help with “Make Every Trip A Return Trip” Coast Guard safety video.

I have helped with Coast Guard Kids Day (introducing kids to kayaks)

I have had to call Coast Guard to evacuate a friend from a secluded beach when he took a bad swim and was hypothermic.

This is all volunteered time and I pay taxes.

Now I am from the country next door so this may mean nothing to you: But; SAR, the Fire Department, The Police and here emergency medical care are considered a right.

I do my bit and will help with what ever my community needs, I do expect the community to do its part.

Peter Brey needed rescued and sucked up lots of resources on a Trans Atlantic Kayak Attempt. These things are so rare that most of us need not worry about the $80,000.00 Cdn that it cost to search for, find and rescue him.

I suspect our little mishap ( a paddler that had a bad swim ) cost the Coast Guard 4 hours of man time X 2 for the crew $250.00 per hour for the boat x 4.

It may have saved a life . I am guessing the $1,500.00 or so about equals the cost of putting a fire engine with its crew on the road to extinguish a dumpster or abandoned car fire.

Like the fire brigade, SAR. has to be available and part of your community.

Alex McGruer

volunteer SAR
Yeah, that’s another part of the equation - volunteer SAR efforts. I have volunteered time to work with local SAR teams, and for a while I was on-call with local SAR teams for emergencies in certain designated wilderness areas that I knew well.

None of my formal SAR work resulted in any rescues, but in the course of my regular recreation activities, I once rescued a group of hikers who were lost and I’ve rescued several National Forest visitors who had car troubles or got their vehicles stuck in the mud. I got paid one time $6 plus 2 cold beers for pulling a guy’s truck out of a mud hole, but the rest of the time it was pro bono.

In areas where the Coast Guard operates, I think private boaters still rescue more people than the CG does, don’t they? Anybody have figures on that?

Agree Alex
I did alpine rescue work as a guide. We were liasons to the Park Service as we were concessionaires in the park and were the first line so to speak for technical recues. In Denali we were on the mountain, fit, and acclimated…so we got the call to go.

I’ll say that at first it’s all a bit romantic but that ends real fast. Also worked as a volunteer EMT for 10 years, and have rescued quite a few kayakers while working as a Captain of a water taxi for awhile.

Saved one guy in Tofino in big surf while surf paddling some years back. I remember staying out till dark and coming in to his friends waiting to thank me on the beach. Pretty cool of them.

I think most who work on the rescue side will say they like the work and in fact “hope” to be busy. That’s ironic cuz it means someone’s in trouble. But you train and train and are ready and willing. It’s part of the experience building and real life calls are the finest experience. So the USCG is not only willing to come get ya, they groove on it. It’s their job and we all pay for that service.

I have no problem paying taxes for services even when it means saving a so called idiot. Just stop for a moment and think about the total cost of saving so called idiots Vs crime, kid perverts, drunks, border patrol, gangs, drugs, wellfare, etc. It’s such a TINY portion of the societal tab it’s insignificant in my mind. Besides adventurers are cool, even if naive. The famous Paul Petzoldt (late) first climbed the Grand Teton in cowboy boots and jeans. He later founded NOLS, WEA, and was instrumental in bringing Outward Bound to the US. We need adventure!

If ya wanna get pissed think about the 300+ Billion already paid to failing banks and the 1.6 Billion of that that went to executive bonuses! More to come BTW!

So, this subject always comes up and I suspect it’s more about folk feeling superior and standing in judgement of so called idiots. Sometimes shit happens and if you wanna be really safe don’t drive and stay home in a Lexan bubble. Play in Nature and as good as you may be ya might just need a hand. The problem with judging who’s an idiot or not is it’s far too subjective and as Alex say’s would cripple the SAR process. Live with it and be happy we have these adrenaline pro’s chomping at the bit to come save our asses.

When boaters are in trouble the CG puts out a call to all vessels in the area. Typically it’s a non-CG vessel that offers assistance. If life threatening they do the same, but also respond until given the “all OK”.

I’ll add that the “dreaded power boaters” rescue many kayakers and you don’t hear about it.

The Coast Guard
does not charge for search and rescue…and never will. HOWEVER, once you’re rescued and safe they will conduct what’s called an “after SAR boarding.” And yes, that includes paddle craft. They will check all the things you’re required to have like a PFD, whistle, etc. For power boats, obviously this is a lot more extensive. Fire extinguishers, PFDs, placards, valid boat registration, etc. If you’re found deficient in any of these things you can and most likely will, be issued a citation or citations. The Coast Guard is not cheap. Citations from the marine patrol, etc tend to be less.

Here’s the kicker. During the after SAR boarding, you can also be charged with negligent boating. In other words, due to YOUR GROSS NEGLIGENCE, you placed yourself, others and property in danger.

The CG will also check to see if you’re impaired in any way i.e. boating under the influence (BUII). And yes, you can be charged with BUII, even if you are in a canoe or kayak. I’ve seen it done. And damn right, it’s well deserved.

So, while the CG does not charge for rescues, they have a way of getting your attention. It’s called “educating”. Sometimes we’re successful.

After 14 yrs (and still going) in the CG doing SAR, nothing surprises me that much anymore. False alarms, hoaxes and BS cases are the nature of the beast in this business. But, it’s knowing that someone you helped today, regardless of how they got there, will be going home safe to their loved ones that makes it all worth while.

That’s the informative, touchy feely post and all of it is true. However, when you’re rescued for doing something stupid, we make fun of your sorry butt amongst ourselves and pray that you haven’t passed on this defective gene to your children.

Hey, I sugarcoat nothing. :wink:

I have - as a called volunteer
On a large fast flowing river in the middle of the winter.

I won’t go into the story,( I related it here many year ago) but if someone wanted to pay me, I would tell them where to shove it.

SAR groups are not formed to make money and the day they start charging for their services, is the day that they won’t get my help any more.



Happy New Year

Volunteer EMT/firefighter

– Last Updated: Dec-26-08 9:46 AM EST –

which in our area means occasionally carrying folks off the local hiking trails.

We don't expect to get paid, and wouldn't charge. But it's not unusual for the department to get a donation from our patients or their families.

I agree that "pay for rescue" might make some folks wait too long. We'd rather find them in good shape than near-death.

I believe that in Europe it's common to buy rescue insurance if you're going where you might need to be helicoptered out. That makes more sense to me.
Rescue insurance

We strongly recommend you purchase rescue insurance for climbing in the Alps. This is best done in Europe, where there are some outstanding insurance products available. One of the reasons the insurance is a good deal is that the rescue capability of the local authorities is truly amazing. Helicopters can pluck you off of vertical mountain faces, and calling for a rescue (we carry mobile phones) is far more likely to bring a very speedy response than anywhere else in the world.

There are a number of different companies and schemes, but they are all fairly similar. In general, they are valid in western Europe as well as other parts of the world, with varying limitations. In France you will want to get a "Carte Neige". This insurance covers nearly all non-motorized, walking, climbing and skiing activities. Do this at the Tourism Office in Chamonix. An annual card costs about $60 US. You can also purchase an 8-day version for about $45.

In Switzerland there are a number of options. REGA is one good organization, as is Air Glaciers. Both are good all over Switzerland as well as France. Ask at the local guide's office for information. Costs are comparable to the Carte Neige. The REGA insurance can also be purchased at most post offices.

Rescue ethical dilemma

– Last Updated: Dec-26-08 9:48 AM EST –

"I think most who work on the rescue side will say they like the work and in fact "hope" to be busy. That's ironic cuz it means someone's in trouble. But you train and train and are ready and willing."

That's what I found interesting when I started as an EMT. You don't want anyone getting hurt or sick, especially in a small town where you probably know them. But at the same time you're trained and ready and want to help. You want to use those skills you've sweated to learn. You hope that nobody needs you, but if they do, you want to be part of the team helping them.

The most extreme examples were when I was observing at a Level 1 trauma center. When the trauma team says that "something good" is coming in it means that somebody has had a *very* bad day...

Well said
by Paddle_Pirate


16 yrs USCGR

Where are you P Pirate?