Rescuers say PLB's = Yuppie 911

8:26 p.m. on October 26, 2009 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "Rescuers say PLB's = Yuppie 911"

PLB's and self-sufficiency can be a hot (i.e. controversial) topic in the Trailspace forums. Now the discussion has gone mainstream: Tired from a hike? Rescuers fear Yuppie 911Last month two men and their teenage sons tackled one of the world's most unforgiving summertime hikes: the Grand Canyon's parched and searing Royal Arch Loop. Along with bedrolls and freeze-dried food, the inexperienced ba...

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7:56 a.m. on October 27, 2009 (EDT)
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With all due respect to others in the field (I too am a wilderness rescuer) The same thing happens every day with cell phones. How many 911 calls do you think are actually emergencies? And FYI, people try things beyond their means and skill levels every single day. It's human nature.

As a rescuer/public servant, it's what you do. You get a call and go. You can't afford to say "Aw, it just a PLB, probably not an emergency." Automatic fire alarms in apartment buildings work the same way - what if fire department took the "Take your time, it's the 3rd one this month for that address" attitude? I'll tell you what - disaster!

I personally would rather respond to a few false alarms knowing that one day, one of those PLB triggers is going to save someones life. Someone who has a wife, kids, mom, dad, brother or sister waiting for them to come back safe. And how are they going to do that? We (YOU) the rescuers are going to bring them home.

As a rescuer, if you feel PLBs are causing you undue stress, danger, trouble, or inconvenience, maybe you're in the wrong field. I'm sure there's a desk job waiting for you somewhere.

9:29 a.m. on October 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Your point is well-taken and, of course, NO public servant has the moral right to query the validity of a given call.

However, when you are the ONLY possible "rescue" facility/personnel in thousands of square miles of empty wilderness, electronic "nav-aids" are very few and far between and it is blowing a blizzard with 60mph winds, sub-zero temps and snow so dense that your visibility is maybe 20m feet....what then?

Here, in BC and in all of Canada's empty and harsh north, the R.C.M.P. and "Canforce" people are spred VERY thin; an example is that when I worked in remote northern BC, for the BC Forest Service, our staff levels were 1/10th of those in the USFS in Montana, Idaho and Washington and we did not have the incredible resources of the US military to back us up. The RCMP were FEWER than we were and, no bullschitt, it was commonly understood, that, IF, you got lost, you were almost certainly dead and would never be recovered.

Sooo, again, these questions tend to be "region specific" and I am kinda "cool" toward everyone and his dog packing these various electronic devices as I think that they give people a false sense of comfort in situations where they are not capable of dealing with the exigencies that may arise.

MY younger brother is recently retired from a senior "paramedics" position in my home region of BC and, while this area is nowhere near as wild as it was when I grew up and started bushwhacking there, it is still VERY wild by "Lower 48" standards. He has choppered out quite a few "experienced" mountaineers, frozen solid and so have his collegues, many of whom I know. A PLB will do jacksquat for you if you get into a place where fog and terrain preclude landing a "JetRanger" and you are wet, cold and do not have the skills to get warm.

11:47 a.m. on October 27, 2009 (EDT)
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It would seem that from the inception of PLBs, they have been misused. While the PLB manufacturer hyped the first use of their device for a "rescue" in the Adirondacks, they were embarrassed when subsequently the same user, for the same reason set off his PLB - he was tired. The PLB user was later taken to court by the State of NY for misuse of rescue services.

Now, you may say that any tool can be misused. True. But this is a tool with a single purpose - to cry for help. Obviously people have differing needs. But when you are able to walk into the woods on your own, you should expect to walk out on your own. The PLB is a statement that you expect others to care for you if you are careless. That you can go play in the outback and then force others to come for you, at perhaps, their own great personal risk. PLBs represent the most selfish, self-centered aspect of modern society and a further negation of personal responsibility.


2:44 p.m. on December 1, 2009 (EST)
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At least PLB's show the rescuers where the person using it is. There was an Idaho search a few summers back for a missing climber that went on for months.

Obviously idiots will abuse the PLB system, just like they abuse the 911 system. If idiots knew they would be charged for S & R services, that might slow the abuse rate down.

Unfortunately: "Stupid kills, just not soon enough."

I do a lot of solo hiking in remote areas. At age 59 I bought a PLB, primarily so S & R would not waste time & money looking for my body.

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