Photo Credits

Helicopter Shorthaul Rescue

A climber is hauled away after an injury in the Alps.

© Rechitan Sorin :

Who Should Pay for SAR?

Helicopter Rescue on Mount Hood, Oregon Photo by Don RyanIn recent years there have been discussions amongst the public and government organizations about who should pay for the search and rescue of the people stranded in the backcountry. I recently ran across an article in Newsweek magazine about the issue of taxpayers paying for the search and rescue of climbers on Mt. Hood in Oregon.

I've summarized the article and added direct quotes.

  • National Park Service spent nearly 5 million dollars in 2008 on Search and Rescue efforts.
  • "Rescue services have traditionally been provided free of charge, like police and firefighting"
  • Some states have laws that require the patient to pay for the search and rescue if they are considered to be negligent
  • Every mountaineer at Denali National Park has to pay an additional $200 to help support the park for the rescue expenses wether or not they need to be rescued 
  • Colorado uses funds from hunting and fishing licenses to cover the costs

Who do you think should pay for the expenses of search and rescue in your area, and nationally? Do you mind paying for the rescue others? Would you rather just pay for your own rescue? Should we have insurance for high risk activities?  How might changes impact out programs? 

Check out the article here

Posted by

Ryan Welty

on 4/27/10
Field SafetyNews


Ryan, thanks for putting this up. Interesting discussion.

By Alex Kosseff on 04/28/2010 at 11:19 AM

As a former Colorado resident now living in Montana, I appreciate the Colorado law of taxing outdoor activities through fishing and hunting licenses.  However, that misses a big segment of the outdoor recreationalists.  It’s difficult to see a way to share some of the burden with hikers, climbers, bikers, back country skiers and others who are equally if not more susceptible to an event requiring rescue.  We could increase park fees, camping fees, boat registration fees, etc., but that still seems to allow for a lot of free riders.

By gbloomer on 05/20/2010 at 09:43 AM

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