PLBs are causing new problems
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Justin McMinn
(akajut) - F

Locale: Central Oklahoma
PLBs are causing new problems on 10/26/2009 09:54:17 MDT Print View

SAR has nick named them "Yuppie 911". PLBs and Spots are are emboldening both inexperienced and experienced people outdoors.

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David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
old on 10/26/2009 09:57:21 MDT Print View

I don't think they're causing new problems, so much as exacerbating old ones.

I do hope those morons got a fat bill for their silliness.

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
Please tell me this isn't true on 10/26/2009 11:04:45 MDT Print View

But sadly im pretty sure it is!

These people are 100% idiots. "The water tastes funny"

Really? No way!

I need to vent right now!

-Jace

David Neumann
(idahomtman) - M

Locale: Northern Idaho
PLBs on 10/26/2009 11:16:29 MDT Print View

Maybe in remote Alaska... maybe. I am amazed at the increase in the number of cell phones, Satellite phones, PLB's that people carry into the back country. Technology can never replace knowledge and experience.

I most often hike solo in the wilderness though I would prefer hiking with a companion. I understand and assume the risk. I am careful and experienced. I have had to deal with people who get into trouble because of their inexperience. This isn't new, but I think the problem is getting worse because the devices motivate inexperienced individuals to bite off more than they can chew.

I have witnessed people calling their friends and family from the top of Mt. Whitney on their cell phones. Can't people postpone gratification until they get back to civilization? Give me a break.

PLBs have a place, but when abused, as in the Grand Canyon fiasco, they jeopardize the lives of the rescuers. They should have required them to leave the first time and charge them the entire cost of the rescue operation.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Fees on 10/26/2009 12:34:02 MDT Print View

It seems to me they should implement some stiff fees, like in the $1K to $2K range. Something you'd happily pay if your life truly was in danger, but not something you'd consider as part of your back up plan.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Fees on 10/26/2009 14:59:19 MDT Print View

Simple: $5k fee for non-emergency activation, plus immediate confiscation. And NO right of appeal - keep the lawyers out of it.

Cheers

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: PLBs are causing new problems on 10/26/2009 18:00:15 MDT Print View

My understanding is EPIRB false alarms far outnumber PLB false alarms--understandable, given they're automatic rather than only triggered affirmatively.

Once we're flooded with $100 PLBs and if SPOTs and the like become common, some sort of licensing and/or rescue insurance would seem reasonable. What would be useful is a dependable, reasonably affordable VOX component to provide two-way communications with either a service or rescue personnel. I think we'll get there.

I don't buy the notion that due to this technology, the wilds are being flooded with folks who wouldn't otherwise be there. Unqualified, unprepared people have been padding the stats for decades. Nothing new.

Regards,

Rick

Zack Karas
(iwillchopyou@hotmail.com) - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
PLBs on 10/26/2009 19:26:20 MDT Print View

Without stirring the pot too much...

I was on the most difficult thru-hike of my life so far and came to a series of horrendous river braids that instantly made my wife and I decide to implement our 'plan B'. We had 2 friends who were doing the same hike and were a few days behind us. They made it to the same river, thought maybe they shouldn't attempt to cross it, but considered the PLB their plan B. They both almost drowned and had to be rescued when they got stranded on a sand bar. In talking with them afterwards, they were extremely mad at themselves and how the PLB had made them foolhardy.

Our plan B wass to stay grounded and save ourselves. Theirs was to throw caution to the wind and be rescued.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Let's not be too elitist on 10/27/2009 01:50:47 MDT Print View

None of you have ever gotten in trouble in the backcountry? Yeah, right?

Just don't let it happen in Switzerland (just a reminder -- not part of the EU) as I did. REGA is expensive. (Years later I met a REGA pilot who informed me that it's negotiable and no one pays the full amount but I didn't know that at the time!) You will spend hours being interrogated by the police. Mapping every step you took that day.

Cell phone call might have saved my life. Dunno. Had to crawl up sketchy shoot for about 2 hours to get reception -- that in itself was a gamble. I vividly remember swinging in the wind from that little red helicopter which almost wasn't dispatched due to the conditions.

Don't think carrying a cell phone affected my decision making at all! Wasn't really counting on reception. Just got lucky. As is probably always the case, my predicament resulted from a chain of poor decisions that began with a late start and in retrospect was complicated by early stages of hypothermia. Technology had nothing to do with it.

Doubt technology changes people's attitudes much.

As for SPOT, I am attracted to the tracking feature. I got one and have been playing with it around home. It's really a bit of a bummer -- wouldn't give me any extra confidence. Besides being a clunker, doubt even half the signals go through.

When you're alone, people you love will appreciate the "OK" messages. That's about it.

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/27/2009 02:13:39 MDT.

Jeff Antig
(Antig)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: PLBs are causing new problems on 10/27/2009 03:27:43 MDT Print View

I've always thought about getting a PLB JIC of poisonous bites/stings.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: PLBs are causing new problems on 10/27/2009 11:44:13 MDT Print View

"I've always thought about getting a PLB JIC of poisonous bites/stings."

Well, keep thinking.

Resources and weather can easily push things to 24 hours. Your throat will close up pretty fast if you are allergic to that sort of thing. If not, you'll be uncomfortable for a while, but still quite functional.

Get an epi pen and know how to use it.

Edited by greg23 on 10/27/2009 11:46:01 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: PLBs are causing new problems on 10/27/2009 13:07:49 MDT Print View

How will you know if it's poisonous? Will you know in every case? You get bit, the creature is gone, do you pull the plug on a plb because of a nonpoisonous snake bite?

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Re: Fees on 10/27/2009 13:11:50 MDT Print View

Simple: $5k fee for non-emergency activation, plus immediate confiscation. And NO right of appeal - keep the lawyers out of it.
Or perhaps a blanket fee, say $500 or even $1000, for every use, irrespective of the circumstances. That way there's no one "looking over your shoulder" second guessing your decisions.

With the case of the four tourons in the Grand Canyon activating their PLB three times on one trip, it's pretty clear cut. However, there recently was a Boy Scout who turned an ankle on a winter hike and tried to cut down an XC route that he had been on before in the summer. He wound up not being able to cross a swollen creek, and had to go XC into unknown territory. He was given a multi-thousand dollar fine. I'm not saying that the Scout did everything right, but was it a clear cut case of negligence? Part of why they cited him was because he left the trail.

What's reasonable? What's negligence? Who's to decide? I would feel really uncomfortable with someone passing judgment on my risk calculations. If I chose a steep, rocky XC route, is that de-facto negligence? If I go solo, is that de facto negligence? Who would set these standards?

What seems reasonable to a seasoned backcountry traveler might seem quite unreasonable to some bureaucrat behind a desk in his air conditioned office.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: PLBs are causing new problems on 10/27/2009 13:29:56 MDT Print View

Not to put too fine a point on it but if a riled rattlesnake injects a large amount of venom it can be a life-threatening situation that requires antivenin and hospitalization. Then there are coral snakes (not that I've ever seen one). An epi pen can be an excellent resource to carry but won't solve every venomous incident.

But I don't know why we're getting hung up on particular scenarios. A broken leg, a concussion, a deep bleeding wound, heatstroke, heart attack, being profoundly lost...there's a limitless variety of situations that emergency responders exist to respond to. We're rightly offended by system misuse but will never reach consensus on what constitutes crossing that line. Anybody who knows cops and firemen know most of their calls are not emergencies and a lot are nuisance calls. Right or wrong, it's part of the job.

If PLBs increase the number of nuisance calls they also increase the percentage of rescues versus recoveries. My vote is that's an improvement. If we ultimately end up having to staff more rescue personnel then that's a choice I can support as well. Punishment (civil or legal) of clearcut abuse is the purvue of the DA's office and the courts, and remedies are already in place.

Regards,

Rick

Jeff Antig
(Antig)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: PLBs are causing new problems on 10/27/2009 13:38:29 MDT Print View

"Well, keep thinking.

Resources and weather can easily push things to 24 hours. Your throat will close up pretty fast if you are allergic to that sort of thing. If not, you'll be uncomfortable for a while, but still quite functional.

Get an epi pen and know how to use it."

When did I ever say anything about allergic reactions? I specifically said poisonous not allergic. FYI, epi pens do not work for venomous bites.

"How will you know if it's poisonous? Will you know in every case? You get bit, the creature is gone, do you pull the plug on a plb because of a nonpoisonous snake bite?"

Are you saying that you don't know which species of snakes/insects are poisonous and which aren't? If so, you should take some sort of outdoors survival class or just stay home. Furthermore, if you were even slightly informed, you would know that the onset of symptoms from poisonous bites are quite distinct as opposed to nonpoisonous snake bites.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: PLBs are causing new problems on 10/27/2009 15:04:19 MDT Print View

> How will you know if it's poisonous?
Well, if it struck and there are fang marks in your skin, it's a very fair assumption that the snake is venomous. It wouldn't bother striking otherwise, would it? In which case I think the SAR would be happy to attend.

Cheers

Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
Volunteer on 10/27/2009 15:49:27 MDT Print View

"We're rightly offended by system misuse but will never reach consensus on what constitutes crossing that line."

Couldn't agree more.

"Anybody who knows cops and firemen know most of their calls are not emergencies and a lot are nuisance calls. Right or wrong, it's part of the job."

Yeah, true.


One thing to keep in mind is that Search And Rescue (SAR) where I live, and I suppose most of the USA, is a generally underfunded and strictly volunteer organization.
I contribute. Do you?

It's an interesting argument. Kinda reminds me of the argument "Guns don't kill people, people kill people", ie "PLBs aren't bad, some people who use them inappropriately are bad".

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
"PLB's arent bad, people who misuse them are" on 10/27/2009 18:46:11 MDT Print View

I agree completly, when you really do need them, they would be a godsend, but if the only reason you need it, is because it gave you the faith to do whatever you are doing, then thats misuse. Also I agree with the statement that our experience would tell us to do something different then some beurocrat would think is the right thing to do. And yes, I do plan on joining SAR whenever I turn 18, or if I can find a SAR team that will take me before that! Can someone please start a SAR program for, say 16 year olds?

-Jace

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
stings. on 10/27/2009 19:46:45 MDT Print View

"When did I ever say anything about allergic reactions? I specifically said poisonous not allergic. FYI, epi pens do not work for venomous bites."

Perhaps there is confusion here since your OP mentioned "poisonous bites/stings." I think he might be wondering which typical poisonous "stings" would require a PLB-based emergency evac. Typically that is going to be caused by a severe allergic reaction, which the Epipen is for (I imagine he doesn't think it's for poisonous bites). I can't think of other stings which would require a PLB for in California, except perhaps Africanized bees or something like that. An envenomated snakebite that is showing effects is a different matter I imagine, and definitely means getting out to see help, if not by foot, car, or horse-drawn buggy, then by PLB-called helicoper.

For me, I don't see much of a need for a PLB for lots of hiking, but I do think about the value of it when doing longer, solo cross-country hiking, where something like a broken ankle could make things really dangerous.

There are always going to be people calling for rescue when they don't need it (via smoke signal, Aldis lamp, cell phone, PLB) and I'm glad there are people around that will risk their lives to try to help people. But I also do agree that GPS, cell phones, and PLBs tend to embolden folks to do things they might not otherwise have the experience to try, and perhaps fail at. I guess part of this is that folks might not feel the need for the most basic planning, such as checking weather forecasts, leaving detailed itinerary info/maps, and the like. "If it goes bad, I'll just call for help!"

Edited by DaveT on 10/27/2009 19:52:38 MDT.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Emergency rooms on 11/04/2009 15:06:17 MST Print View

This is similar to the misuse of emergency rooms. No one has yet found an answer to that one either.

Unfortunately there will always be those that misuse emergency facilities. How to handle it is the $64 million question.

However, differently from emergency rooms (I hope at least), is that PLBs may very well be encouraging those without proper skills to venture where they don't belong. I don't have an answer for that one either. However, I think that once activated, you come out, period. If you decline, you are fined for falsely reporting an emergency.

There probably should be a standard and required discloser of what activating one for rescue really means is probably a good first start.