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Cell phones, camera's, etc. cause mishaps and false emergencies within national parks

National parks all over the United States have had problems in the past involving visitors being injured by wildlife, touching scalding hot geysers and so on. While incidents like these are bad enough, rangers within the national parks are now saying that technology is a key component that's helping to cause these mishaps. To make matters worse, visitors are using their technology for non emergency-related purposes.

Yellowstone National Park, for example, has had a record number of visitor-related accident's during the month of July, and according to rangers, technology is often to blame. Recently, the park had an issue with a visitor who got a little too close to a buffalo in order to obtain a picture, and it charged toward the woman causing injury.

This isn't the only case where a camera got a visitor into trouble. Just this month, a French teenager fell 75 feet from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon while backing up to take a picture. 

While both of these accidents were careless, they were legitimate emergencies that called for rescuing. What has rangers frustrated with visitors is when they use their technology to call rangers for "emergencies" that are not really emergencies at all.

"Every once in awhile we get a call from someone who has gone to the top of a peak, the weather has turned and they are confused about how to get down and they want someone to personally escort them," said Jackie Skaggs, spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. "The answer is that you are up there for the night."

Another instance of emergency misuse on a cell phone was when a group of hikers traveled to the Grand Canyon last fall and constantly pressed the emergency rescue button on their electronic device (which does not allow the sender to explain why they're calling for help) and every time the rangers showed up in a helicopter, the group would have an excuse like their water was too salty, or they were short on water. By the third time that this had happened, the group was sent home and the leader was issued a citation. 

Park rangers not only lose time dealing with potential real emergencies when these incidents occur, but they also lose a hefty amount of money. According to Maureen Oltrogge, a spokeswoman for Grand Canyon National Park, it costs about $3,400 an hour to send a helicopter into the park. 

"Because of having that electronic device, people have an expectation that they can do something stupid and be rescued," said Skaggs. 



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RE: So it would be better..
By amanojaku on 8/24/2010 8:23:58 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Apparently judging from this guys attitude
Which guy, Jackie Skaggs, spokeswoman, or Maureen Oltrogge, a spokeswoman?
quote:
it would be better off if people got lost and went missing and were never heard from again. Like back in the good old days. But now, thanks to these goddamn cell phones, someone who is lost and confused and ill prepared for what awaits them, can actually call for help or at least let you know they are out there! God that sucks!!!
Please reread the article. It says MISUSE. I think the actions mentioned (leaving idiots up on a peak in the rain and escorting bigger idiots out) are reasonable. It's not like the rangers are going to purposely put or leave people in dangerous situations.
quote:
No offense but I'm sure the average park ranger sits on his fat ass half the day anyway, courtesy of the United States taxpayer. I don't think asking them to help the occasional lost idiot once in a while is too much to ask. Seriously, get over it.
Get over yourself. If idiot campers are busy calling rangers for things that aren't life threatening then resources are being pulled from things that are. That means the parks would need MORE rangers and equipment, which means more taxes.

Unlike many people on this site I don't think you're a troll, I think you're an idiot. You never think things through.


RE: So it would be better..
By Reclaimer77 on 8/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: So it would be better..
By nafhan on 8/24/2010 9:15:17 AM , Rating: 2
While I think if you and your dad weren't capable of handling a canoe trip, you shouldn't have gone in the first place, or you should have found an easier route, etc. However, if you do have to call for help, I think a citation for putting yourself in jeopardy is completely appropriate.
quote:
the group was sent home and the leader was issued a citation.
This needs to happen more often, IMO.


RE: So it would be better..
By Reclaimer77 on 8/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: So it would be better..
By cyxceven on 8/24/2010 10:45:10 AM , Rating: 2
The hiking group’s leader was issued the citation, not the ranger's.

And they did send helicopters every time, so they were indeed performing their duties.
But when it becomes apparent that you're trolling the rangers--of course you're gonna get banned. It's for your own safety.


RE: So it would be better..
By Reclaimer77 on 8/24/2010 11:06:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And they did send helicopters every time, so they were indeed performing their duties. But when it becomes apparent that you're trolling the rangers--of course you're gonna get banned. It's for your own safety.


oh my god... Ok hold on I really need some coffee.

AHHHH! Ok

Seriously you people are driving me nuts. How many times do I have to say that I wasn't arguing FOR those careless cases?? STOP BRINGING THEM UP! I do NOT think it's cool to call in a chopper for salty tasting water!! I don't know how many times that I don't know how many times that I don't know how many times I have to say this.


RE: So it would be better..
By cyxceven on 8/24/2010 12:58:35 PM , Rating: 3
Calm down, jitterbug. I didn't say I thought you were defending them.
I'm just saying they did their job.
They save lives--Even the lives of trolls.

I wanna be a ranger now. Because Helicopters.


RE: So it would be better..
By MrBlastman on 8/24/2010 10:36:48 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
quote:
the group was sent home and the leader was issued a citation.
This needs to happen more often, IMO.


The tools hiking in the Grand Canyon definitely did not belong there and sending them home was the right thing to do. The fact they called help just because their water was salty and then later ran out of water--shows they did not have the skills nor the knowledge to be in that Canyon. They had no business hiking in there.

It is absolutely amazing how many people have no clue of the outdoors--none. I see it all the time when hiking or camping in national parks and you can clearly tell this by the plethora of people who consider bringing a camper to a park (with a gas stove, power lines, water, showers etc.) as camping. The truth is though, it isn't camping at all, it is leisurely vacationing.

Being an Eagle Scout, I've seen my share of "real" camping, hiking out into the wild for days without carrying in any water at all with me, except for either a pot to boil with or a bottle of iodine tablets to purify the water (powdered kool-aid mix does wonders to make it taste better). Of course, there is a line between this and pure survival camping (where you hunt your own food and live off the land completely). The thing is, if you are going to attempt camping or activities such as this, the ole' motto "Be Prepared" really has a dramatic amount of truth to it.

If you aren't prepared, or not willing to take the time to learn the skills necessary to be in situations you might encounter in the wild, don't take the extra risk and know your limits. The story of the individual summiting and getting stuck--that can happen as weather does change rapidly out in the wild; checking the weather before you go on your treck helps as well.

But, as a scout (if you make Eagle, you're one for life), you're taught that if people are in distress, are lost, need help or whatever, you do the right thing and provide assistance to them without any requirements--such as them compensating you for the help. It is the right thing to do. We can't help that people are going to be in the wild that don't belong there, but, as people, it is the right thing to do to help them if you have the knowledge and the know how.

Requiring everyone to financially compensate park services for their rescue is a mixed bag. The Rangers take an oath to serve the wild and help the people in it--so, they really are just doing their jobs by being there. We have money allocated by the Federal budget (very small amounts of money, actually) to pay for these rangers and if people don't need to be saved, the Rangers are busy doing other things.

Our national parks are one of the greatest treasures of our nation. If anything, we do not need to discourage people from adventuring in them--telling them: if you mess up, you're screwed or you owe a lot of money, well, that kind of goes against the spirit of it. If people legitimately go into the wild and screw up, they shouldn't have to worry about the repercussions and instead, let the Rangers do their jobs and rescue the people. Too few people venture outdoors these days to begin with, we more people wanting to get outside.

Our Parks are there for a reason, people shouldn't be afraid to use them. Although, IF they are venturing into them, they need to be prepared for what they might face and try and be responsible adults about it.

If they're tools, like the Grand Canyoners, they shouldn't be anywhere near a national park and being banned/kicked out from parks around the country works for me. There is so much to see in our great parks, so much that there is no reason to be trying to text on a phone, read email, watch movies etc.,--the real excitement is through your two eyeballs and all the wilds around. Pictures are great, but please, understand the risks before trying to take them.


RE: So it would be better..
By LRonaldHubbs on 8/24/2010 9:22:42 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Don't you skim articles? And please tell me how the sex of a person in this case matters? Does it change the facts or context one bit? You sure went out of your way to make this point, are you sexist or something?

Sure, everyone skims from time to time. However, most of us don't take a hardline stance on the subject until we've actually read over it in detail.

quote:
I wasn't aware that there was a National Standard for mobile device usage. So "misuse" is generally a matter of opinion. When you're sitting on your ass at home reading this it doesn't seem like a big deal to you, but maybe try thinking of others

Oh FFS. You don't need a 'National Standard' to know that repeatedly calling for help when you don't really need it is misuse.

quote:
OH please. Sorry but the day to day life of a park ranger is NOT that hectic. There aren't all these emergencies going on that they are being "pulled from". Get over YOURSELF. If that was the case, the article would have cited some example of this happening.

...long irrelevant anecdote...

As usual you are missing the point. The problem is not that people are calling for help. The problem is that people are calling for help when they don't need it. Your story is an example of actually needing help. This is irrelevant to the discussion at hand because the example in the article was about people who DIDN'T need help. THAT is what the park rangers are fed up with. The other thing they are fed up with is people doing dumb s*** which results in them needing help.


RE: So it would be better..
By Reclaimer77 on 8/24/2010 9:41:05 AM , Rating: 1
Who determines who "needed" the help though? Yes, I think we can ALL agree that those Grand Canyon pranksters were in the wrong. But can't you see how other examples might fall in a gray area? Who determines, objectively, whether the help was genuinely "needed" or not?

The girl on the mountain top who could have waited it out through the night. Did she need help? What if a bear mauled her later or a snake bit her or she froze to death etc etc? Did she need help then?

See it's easy for us to sit back on our computers and make judgments on others for being idiots etc etc. Hell don't get me wrong, I do it. But I've been in the situation. A good time turning REAL bad REAL quick. And I don't care what you or anyone else says, I would have done anything to just get out of it.

So my question is, who made LRonaldHubbs the judge of who needs help and who doesn't?


RE: So it would be better..
By RicheemxX on 8/24/2010 9:59:24 AM , Rating: 3
There's a more detailed article in the NYT today about some of the details of some of these rescues. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/science/earth/22...

As mentioned in more than a few cases people (for lack of a better term) are growing a pair and doing things and putting themselves in situations they have no business being in simply because they think they can rely on the new tech out there to save their a$$. As with the case of the white water rafters that had never been in boat, these people have no business on the water. But they get this false sense of security because they have a panic button!

quote:
People with cellphones call rangers from mountaintops to request refreshments or a guide; in Jackson Hole, Wyo., one lost hiker even asked for hot chocolate.


Yeah that's a person that really "needed" help!


RE: So it would be better..
By amanojaku on 8/24/2010 10:04:13 AM , Rating: 5
This is coming from the same person who's pat answers to everything are "you made your own bed, now sleep in it"? It's amazing how you change your tune when you can identify with the victim, as demonstrated by your anecdote.

The national parks are very good at telling people what to do and what to look out for. No one goes into the park unprepared unless you purposely do so. If you climb a mountain you'd better know how to get back down, and if not the park rangers will know if it's safe to leave you there. Seriously, no responsible park ranger is going to leave you at the mercy of bears, snow storms and other dangerous stuff. This is AMERICA; put someone in danger like that and you'll get sued.

So, back to your question about who gets to decide who needs help: the park rangers do based on training and experience. You have neither, and that's reflected in your comments. The spokespeople are not saying technology should be banned; if you pay attention you'll see there is an increase in technologies being used to track and communicate with visitors. What is being said is people need to be careful in its use. You don't call 911 because your fridge is empty; don't call a park ranger because you ran out of food or water for the night. Do call the park ranger if it's been a day or so and you're feeling weak (you can survive at least a week without food, so a few hours isn't enough time to be alarmed). Don't call the park ranger because you want hot chocolate (someone did this). Do call the park ranger if you're stuck in a place you physically can't get out of or are lost.


RE: So it would be better..
By Reclaimer77 on 8/24/2010 10:24:30 AM , Rating: 1
I really see no need for this level of personal attack by you on this issue. My answer to "everything" is NOT that. And this is not a political or tax discussion or government power discussion.

quote:
What is being said is people need to be careful in its use. You don't call 911 because your fridge is empty; don't call a park ranger because you ran out of food or water for the night. Do call the park ranger if it's been a day or so and you're feeling weak (you can survive at least a week without food, so a few hours isn't enough time to be alarmed). Don't call the park ranger because you want hot chocolate (someone did this).


Where in the hell do you see me arguing for that? Where did I say hot chocolate was acceptable request?

You've already called me an idiot so apparently now you're talking to me like a child and picking extreme elements that I NEVER argued for to make your case against me. I think at this point all hopes for a constructive discussion are lost.


RE: So it would be better..
By Smilin on 8/24/2010 10:32:05 AM , Rating: 2
(note: my first post in the conversation..not at all interested in the heated part of this debate)

My thoughts:

You can skip the gray area by simply charging a fee any time a ranger has to come save your butt.

It might be your fault or it might be out of your control but you know whose fault it WASN'T?. The taxpayer.

This isn't without precident either. If you take an ambulance trip then you (or your health insurance) is going to pay for it.

That said, I think in all but the most extreme cases of retardation it should simply be a fine and not the total cost of the rescue. The fee will stop people from making flippant calls for help. However if you charge them the whole $20k for three days of rescue operations then they might be hesitant to call when they should.

As for the girl on the mountaintop: I had a couple buddies get stuck on a mountaintop in Yosemite. They did a late day hike to the top and on the way down a ranger told them absolutely not to hike at night. So they slept on the floor of a restroom in shorts and T-shirts @ 50 degrees. It sucked but they lived. It's not like they needed an extraction but I'm sure rangers would have provided one if their life was in danger...and they should have been fined in such a case.


RE: So it would be better..
By Lerianis on 8/25/2010 10:42:03 AM , Rating: 2
No, they shouldn't have been fined, seeing as how they had no idea how long the hike would take. These rangers are basically asking people to see in the future and do NOTHING unless they are able to do that.... and we wonder why people don't want to leave their homes anymore?

Because the freaking police are fine-happy!


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