Not talking about lost children or things like that, I mean when people willfully decide to do something dangerous, and need to be rescued as a result.
Yes, sometimes they do.
Oh, I should add that usually when people are billed (in Northa America) it’s because they did something “against the rules” (like in the above link) to begin with and it’s a punitive measure because the people who needed rescuing did something reckless to begin with (like ignored warning signs).
And some park systems have also implemented fees for climbers. For example: they have to register and pay $200 do climb Mt. McKinley to cover the overhead of rescue operations.
Generally, parks don’t like the idea of billing because there is a greater risk that people will not call for help when they need it and end up getting killed.
Not in the U.S. Most wilderness areas have some kind of volunteer rescue organization. There are sometimes exceptions, such as the “runaway bride” case a year or so back. I believe she was ordered to make partial restitution.
There’s a move afoot in Oregon to require climbers on Mt. Hood, and possibly other peaks, to carry locator beacons. Many serious climbers don’t think they should have to do so, but I think they’re going to lose. Their basic argument seems to be, “because we don’t want to”.
Requiring reimbursment might cause people to delay reporting an overdue hiker, or climber. That wouldn’t be a very good idea.
It depend on the state and also whether or not they have provisions for “recklessness” that can result in you getting billed for rescue. Like New Hampshire:
I’m trying to find a comprehensive list (that covers more than the U.S.) But the NewWest website mentions that five states: California, Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire and Oregon, have charge for rescue laws on the books.
Again, they are usually evaluated case by case. If you got stranded by a sudden unexpected storm you probably won’t be billed. If you slipped and fell on some moss and broke your ankle, you probably wouldn’t be billed. But if you’re an asshat who ignores the weather reports, ignores the “thin ice” signs, climbs a fence that has a “no trespassing” sign, with all the wrong gear, no provisions, and flip-flops instead of proper hiking boots, and didn’t take even the most basic precautions that any reasonable person would have — get out your credit card.
Thanks for asking that question, Wee Bairn. I’d been wondering about it, too.
And thank you, Swallowed My Cellphone for your answers.
Often negligence is hard to determine. Here in the NW we, fairly frequently, have people who just intend to park their cars and take a short walk in the woods. They don’t realize how easy it is to lose their sense of direction in a forest. Just a few months ago a young boy was lost near Crater Lake. He was only out of site of his parents for a couple of minutes, but the couldn’t find him and he didn’t answer their calls. There was a large, exhaustive search, but they couldn’t locate him. As I recall, he was mildly autistic and would often hide from people. They believe this may have contributed to the problem. As far as I’ve heard, he’s still missing and they’ve pretty much ruled out foul play. They’ll likely find his remains in the spring, after the snow melts. So I think penalizing people for negligence is pretty rare.
That’s why it’s only “extreme cases of negligence” that usually get passed on to the Attorneys General in the charge-for-rescue states.
You have to knowingly ignored signage, delibereately go out of bounds etc. An autistic child who wanders off would not likely have his/her case go to the Attorney General. A snowmobile driver who decides that the “Danger: Thin Ice” signs don’t apply to him and goes out on the ice anyway, probably would.
Canada (as far as I know) doesn’t have any charge-for-rescue laws, but it was bandied about a bit after some asshat snowboarders decided to knowingly go out of bounds and cross out of the controlled ski area. They did not have appropriate self-rescue gear and didn’t tell anyone where they were going. Conditions were so extreme that it put 34 members of a rescue crew in jeopardy and the helicopter that rescued them did so in very dangerous circumstances. The cost of their rescue was only about $5000, and a lot of people thought they should have paid for it because they knowingly took an unreasonable risk.
Under French law, if you go skiing “off piste” away from the controlled ski areas you can be charged for rescue. Last summer the famlies of two dead snowboarders, who were killed in the French Alps, were billed because the vicitms were experienced (so presumably knew better) and went off piste despite weather reports forecasting a considerable risk of an avalanche. Their insurance policies had coverage for off-piste skiing, but the companies refused to pay out because the men ignored danger signs.
The NH law is new, it’s known as the “reckless hiking” law. But offenders are charged a penalty which is not a direct reimbursement for costs of the rescue. In practice, nearly everyone investigated under the law has voluntarily donated funds to the rescue organizations and that has pretty much ended it. You have to do something pretty stupid to be charged, and unortunately we have plenty of those folks.
In the Grand Canyon, you will be charged the cost of a rescue (almost always a chopper flight) regardless of how things happened. A friend blew out a knee down there (no fault of his own) and was billed for the evac flight.
It varies quite a bit among US jurisdictions. In Europe it is much more uniform (or so I’m told) and nearly everyone who spends time in the mountains has rescue insurance. You can get that in the US-Canada from various climbing organizations.
I was just trying to find out whether Australia has charge-for-rescue regulations. Judging by last year’s “Bumbling Brit”, I’m guessing that they don’t. His second rescue seems to have cost NT taxpayers about $10,000 (Oz dollars).
I think most mountaineering guidebooks tell you if there are rescue fees. I had a kayaking guidebook that mentioned a fee for rescue if you were on some river, but I don’t remember where that was (it was about 15 years ago).
A good friend of mine fell off a dirt bike in the wilderness in the state of Washington. She dislocated her shoulder, and could no longer ride.
They had both a GPS and a cell phone, which as luck would have it, had a signal. They called for rescue. her husband set a way point on the GPS and headed back toward the trail head. It took him 45 minutes to get there.
The SAR people took the GPS and headed out.
About 2 hours after the accident there were on scene. it was getting near dark and the night vision on the helicopter was not in the best of condition. so they set up camp, and took care of her through the night. The next AM they air lifted her out to the nearest trauma center.
Total cost to her for this rescue? Zip, nada, nothing.
She and her husband are going to volunteer for this team, in order to give something back.
Right now, I am picturing one heartless “Mastercard: Priceless” commercial.
I gurantee that it has been done already privately, but more tastelessly, in some SAR ready room somewhere while stowing ropes after a particularly silly and/or strenuous rescue.
Here in Tucson, you will be charged for your rescue if you’re driving during or after a monsoon storm and ignore the warning signs or blockades around a flooded area and drive into it anyway and get stuck. It’s called the Stupid Motorist Law.
Rick’s law: It is impossible to tell the depth of a puddle from the top.*
The Oh Shit collary to Rick’s law: Puddles are always at least 12" deeper than they look. Usually 36" deeper than they appear.
*ask me how I know this
Colorado hunting license have a $0.25 fee for search and rescue.
The US Coast guard bills fisherman when they get stranded on ice flows, Like on lake Superior.
Some very gratefully people make nice contributions to local 1st responder, and search & rescue teams. But one that will always stay with me was a motorcycle crash victim, who tried to make us pay for the leather coat that was cut from him. He even took our service to court, and the judge gave him the boot.
Lose control of your car and knock down a telephone pole ,you get to buy a new one. Get caught doing a false fire alarm ,you gotta pay. In Michigan anyway.
What really pisses me off is when idiots like that go ahead and sell their stories to the tabloid press and current affairs shows. They end up profiting from their own recklessness, and the taxpayers foot the bill for the rescue.
At the very least, there should be a law whereby media fees and other royalties can be garnished to defray the cost of the rescue.
Okay , someone had to how do you know this ,lol