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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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Lives saved > Misuse
By syphon on 8/24/2010 8:48:54 AM , Rating: 3
I will say it can be annoying with the misuse of technology however I am sure that this technology has saved lives. Think about it, before if you got seriously injured, you could not call for that $3,400 an hour helicopter to save you. You had to send your buddy or try to make it out on your own. Depending on your condition, this could have killed you.

Also, I am sure GPS has saved some hikers from getting very lost.

I would like to see numbers on how many lives were saved using this same technology that they are upset over.

RE: Lives saved > Misuse
By daniyarm on 8/24/2010 11:54:08 AM , Rating: 2
You know how they have a "stupid motorist law", how about one for National Parks. If you have to be rescued because you are an idiot, you pay back every single dime for that rescue.

Ok, so the stupid motorist law is not stopping all idiots from driving into a flooded crossing, but at least it pays for the rescue. Maybe there could be an option at Yellowstone, if you are stuck on the mountaintop and want to be escorted out, $100 an hour.

RE: Lives saved > Misuse
By AssBall on 8/24/2010 12:40:04 PM , Rating: 2
I think some dudes in Oregon are suing some dumbasses they had to rescue for the costs just like you are saying. I mean, if I get my leg broken dicking around in my front yard, or have a stroke, I pay the ambulance and hospital bill, why should search and rescue be any different?

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