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How much do rescues cost?
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Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
How much do rescues cost? on 11/18/2013 08:51:06 MST Print View

I need your help.

I'm working on a BPL article about rescue insurance for backpackers.

If we know how much rescues might cost, we can make better decisions about buying insurance.

Every situation and locality has different rescue costs, and different policies for recovering rescue costs.

If you have good, direct knowledge of rescue costs and cost recovery policies, please tell me more.

What locality (e.g. park, county, state, country)?

What costs are billed to the person rescued?

How much does each part of a rescue cost?

Rescue costs might include any of the following services:

- Search
- On-site assistance (e.g. extraction from difficult situations, first aid)
- Moving you to "front country", including first aid and transportation (e.g. litter carry, rescue helicopter)
- Moving you to a hospital or clinic, including treatment and transportation (e.g. ambulance, medical helicopter)

Not covered for this purpose is medical treatment in a hospital or similar location.

If you have a story to tell, please include the costs. If some of your costs were not billed, or covered by insurance or other sources, please give more details.

If you don't want to post in public, please send a PM, I'll keep your identity private.

Please reply by December 1, 2013.


-- Rex

Michael Ray
Re: How much do rescues cost? on 11/18/2013 08:58:14 MST Print View

Unrelated, yet possibly helpful - check out DAN insurance for divers. 3 tiered plans offer varying levels of Annual/Lifetime coverage for diving accidents (both domestic and international) including hyperbaric chambers, emergency transportation, etc. Might give you some rough numbers to play around with.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: How much do rescues cost? on 11/18/2013 10:47:59 MST Print View

doesn't SPOT offer some form of coverage ? i think i read they flew some fellow out of Resolute with kidney failure a few years ago


David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
MedStar on 11/18/2013 11:01:27 MST Print View

We buy this one locally, more for front country than backcountry.

in the backcountry, try to get the Sheriff to order a MAST chopper, they don't charge.

Don Morris
(hikermor) - F
How much do rescues cost? on 11/18/2013 16:28:10 MST Print View

I'll bet you would get some good data is you inquired directly of various national parks, especially Grand Canyon, which has a wide variety of situations, met by differing strategies.

cost on 11/23/2013 18:02:13 MST Print View

I think this is a very difficult question to answer.
Theres significant variation obviously between incidents, personnel, and equipment needed.
Then, there is the pricing. Cost accounting basis is tricky business. Is is being charged as incremental cost, or full book cost?

That is to say, people are on payroll, equipment is owned, maintained, and depreciated, regardless of whether or not it actually is used in a rescue. The proper cost to charge someone would be the incremental cost the rescue necessitated, which would consist of overtime, fuel, and wear and tear. This would be a fraction of full book cost.

However it would probably be common when assessing costs, to take the equipement asset costs and salaries and divide them by number of rescue hours,etc. Since time spent on rescues is a small percentage of total, this greatly inflates the cost.

From an SAR standpoint, rescues are the reason they have certain people and assets. So the cost is real to them

From an individual standpoint, its not there fault those people and equipment are under-utilized.

Suffice to say, the answers can range from a few hundred $ to $100,000+

This is why lawyers get involved at that point when someone gets charged.

Old accounting joke:

CEO of a corporation is interviewing for a head accounting position.

First applicant is asked "What is 2+2" , he answers confidently 4.
CEO says "Thank you, we will be in touch"

Second applicant is asked "What is 2+2", she answers 4,
CEO says "Thank you, we will be in touch"

Third applicant is asked "What is 2+2" , he answers "What would you like it to be?
CEO says "Your hired"

Edited by livingontheroad on 11/23/2013 18:16:51 MST.

Jeffrey List
(jlist) - M

Locale: Cape Cod
Re: How much do rescues cost? on 11/23/2013 18:43:33 MST Print View

A good resource for this issue in New Hampshire can be found on the forum
See this thread for starters:
In this and other threads there's information on how much people got billed for their rescues, although I don't think itemized expenses were posted.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
nadda on 11/23/2013 19:52:50 MST Print View

in bc?

nadda ...

free whirlybird tours ....

theres some discussion about it, but the actual SAR groups are all against charging here ...


Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Grand Canyon National Park SAR rescue on 11/24/2013 12:34:42 MST Print View

I broke an ankle about 5 miles down the Tanner Trail in GCNP this past spring. With help from other hikers, I was able to get to a saddle area where a helicopter could land. I sent a message up with hikers hiking out and they contacted park rangers. I made it clear that I was in stable condition, had enough water to spend the night and didn't need medical attention onsite.

My teenage son and I were flown out by helicopter later that afternoon. I believe the helicopter was NPS. They transported me to the frontcountry. They did bring crutches but didn't give me any medical attention. I'd been informed that the medical clinic in the Park was closed for the night and asked if I'd like to be transported to the hospital in Flagstaff. There was an ambulance waiting for us at the heli pad and I was taken by ambulance to Flagstaff medical center.

The helicopter transport was SAR and it was free. One of the rangers called me a few days later at home to make sure I'd gotten home OK. (I later made a donation to SAR; probably only a drop in the bucket but I'm really grateful for what they did.)

The ambulance transport from the South Rim to Flagstaff was over $3,000. My health insurance did cover most of it, so out-of-pocket expense would depend on individual coverage. Medical care I received at Flagstaff Medical Center was likewise handled through my health insurance. (Btw, Flagstaff MC was fantastic -- they found and paid for a hotel that night and put us in a cab to get there. I didn't even have my cell phone with me.)

My insurance company's "recovery unit" contacted me a few months later and asked me if I had "discussed the responsibility for (my) accident with a park official". I thought that was pretty funny. :)

Edited by DetroitTigerFan on 11/24/2013 12:36:44 MST.

William Lotman
(wl1193) - F

Locale: East Bay
PM sent on 11/24/2013 14:33:17 MST Print View

Rex I sent you a PM.

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
How much do rescues cost? on 11/24/2013 16:33:00 MST Print View

NRA 360 is one to look into. Most folks who are into adventuring around the world get something to supplement their normal insurance plan, but then again they can afford it.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: How much do rescues cost? on 11/24/2013 18:33:43 MST Print View

Rescue 360 for NRA Members is $399 per year.

Requirements, Exclusions, and Exceptions are not posted on the web site.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Thanks! Please send more! on 11/24/2013 19:00:52 MST Print View

Thanks everyone for your forum posts and PMs, they will improve the article immensely.

Please send more stories and pointers. Every little bit helps.

For example, Rescue 360 is run by a company that provides similar services to 70 other large groups, and to individuals (at a higher price). That company is backed by another company, which is insured by other companies. Getting to the terms and conditions could be interesting.

-- Rex

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Thanks! Please send more! on 11/25/2013 11:45:32 MST Print View

My partner has been rescued numerous times in Santa Barbara county and down in San Bernardino County (near San Jacinto). These rescues have involved helicopters and one just involved a fire rescue truck. It has not cost him anything for the rescue any of the times. Hospital bills and the taxi back to Idyllwild from Hemet did cost him something. I think the taxi cost the most since he has had health insurance each time.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: How much do rescues cost? on 11/25/2013 11:56:32 MST Print View

My first divorce was around $550. That was most certainly a rescue of sorts. Does that count?

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Rescue Insurance for Backpackers article posted on 01/10/2014 21:10:08 MST Print View

Rescue Insurance for Backpackers was posted a few days ago.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread for helping me research the article.

-- Rex