Wednesday, May 09, 2007

When do you call for rescue? And how to cover it up

I've had a lot of people come up and talk to me about the story in the Gazette about man who got stranded in deep, wet snow on the northeast side of Pikes Peak Monday. The man encountered deep snow without skis or snowshoes, struggled for a while, then set up camp, at which point more snow fell, collapsing his tent. He was able to walk out on his own after Search and Rescue team members gave him snowshoes.
Here's what people keeps saying to me: Why did this guy need rescuing?
Yes, there was a lot of snow. Yes, his tent collapsed and he and his dog probably spent a very cold night, but so what? many have said. You struggled in, you struggle out.
I don't have a strong opinion about that but I will say this. The man called his wife at midnight to call for rescue. Big mistake. Let the poor woman sleep. It wasn't her idea to go hiking in a blizzard. Everyone should take a minute to program the sheriff's office numbers for their favorite hiking spots into their phones. Not only will it preserve a spouse's sleep, but if you do it right, you can get rescued, get back to the car, drive home, and never mention any of it.
Opinions on the rescue-worthiness of this scenario, or my advice for marital bliss?


AndyW said...

Program the numbers? Is there anywhere in this country where 911 doesn't work?

Dave Philipps said...

Yes, there is. Vermont. I lived there.

Dan Hennigan said...

Three comments:

1) Search and Rescue wouldn't have any repetitive, boring stories to tell to normal people if not for guys like this calling (S&R stories rank right up there with stories about 'great golf shots')

2) Maybe the guy paid his $1 at the beginning of the season and was entitled to a rescue.

3) What? If the guy actually had hypothermia and died you'd be happy? S&R can make the tactical decision of how much effort to dedicate based on the risk to the guy's life, but stupid or not help the guy out if he is truly in trouble.

UltraRob said...

I've only carried a cell phone with me the last couple years. My wife bugged me about carrying one for a few years before I finally got one. I still generally leave it turned off in the bottom of my pack or in the bottom of my jersey pocket on bike rides.

First of all I think people should be prepared when they go out. Some people just don't know what it means to be prepared. Even if you can call to help, if you're in serious trouble you may not survive until help arrives. Still if someone thinks they need help they should make the call. If search and rescue doesn't think they need rescued, they can make that decision.

There's lots of places where there isn't cell coverage. I've been places in Colorado and Arizona where I've been hiking 10 to 15 miles a day and not seen anyone for 3 days.

MickUltra said...

UltraRob has got it right.

Pack it and if you need it (or think you need it) make the call. The person on the other end can make the decision to dedicate the resources.

A lot of idiots call normal 911 for stupid things as well. Somebody took their VCR, they ate a bad chimichanga or the lost a cat. The dispatcher makes the call there as well.

There is no law that says just because somebody pulled a nut in the backcountry that helicopters, smellhounds and guys in orange jackets need to go looking for them.

Steve Bremner said...

Apparently the guy was carrying about 20 pounds of guns!! He wanted to "hunt coyotes". Crazy as a bedbug.