Monday, October 26, 2009

On EPIRBS - they're not to be used just because

The Detroit news reports on the Yuppie 911 phenomenon - people venturing into the great outdoors unprepared and then triggering their emergency personal locator beacons for stupid reasons, or for getting into situations for which they failed to adequately prepare.

This of course takes up important search and rescue resources that could best be used for real emergencies.

One set of interpid outdoorspeople triggered their EPIRB three times in two days:
The Grand Canyon's Royal Arch loop, the National Park Service warns, "has a million ways to get into serious trouble" for those lacking skill and good judgment. One evening the fathers-and-sons team activated their beacon when they ran out of water.

Rescuers, who did not know the nature of the call, could not launch the helicopter until morning. When the rescuers arrived, the group had found a stream and declined help.

That night, they activated the emergency beacon again. This time the Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter, which has night vision capabilities, launched into emergency mode.

When rescuers found them, the hikers were worried they might become dehydrated because the water they found tasted salty. They declined an evacuation, and the crew left water.

The following morning the group called for help again. This time, according to a park service report, rescuers took them out and cited the leader for "creating a hazardous condition" for the rescue teams.
Hopefully in addition to being ticketed they were assessed with the cost of the three rescue attempts. Other similar stories can be read at the Detroit News link above.

EPIRBS are highly useful for real emergencies, and people should have the option of having one, but should be held responsible for its use.

But EPIRBS are not to be used lightly, should be prevented from going off accidentally, should be used only for serious emergences, and certainly should not be used for being afraid of a thunderstorm or anything less than a real life threatening situation.

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