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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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Yuppie 911
By spwrozek on 8/24/2010 9:13:51 AM , Rating: 0

Unfortunately the technology is the problem. People go out and tackle hikes that they have no idea how to plan for or even accomplish. It allows people with no experience to put themselves in a lot of danger because they have an out button.

There are people who use the technology correctly but the false confidence it is giving to people in the back country is a very bad thing.

RE: Yuppie 911
By spwrozek on 8/24/2010 10:41:58 AM , Rating: 1
So I get a negative rating for pointing out that there are a lot of idiots who think they have a rescue me button and go on adventures they have no business being on. Awesome.

Sometimes the internet boggles my mind. And the article I linked was for the yuppie 911 article from a year ago. This story is by no means new.

RE: Yuppie 911
By Smilin on 8/24/2010 1:53:41 PM , Rating: 1
Yea sorry man, not sure why you got downrated. Even if someone disagreed it wasn't exactly some radical point.

Maybe you were a dick in a past life. :P jk

RE: Yuppie 911
By Invane on 8/24/2010 5:01:44 PM , Rating: 2
I 100% disagree. The technology does exactly what it's supposed to do. It gives someone in a potentially life threatening situation an opportunity to get the help they need.

You stated the real problem right here:
People go out and tackle hikes that they have no idea how to plan for or even accomplish.

The underlying issue needs to be addressed here. The problem is how to do that.

RE: Yuppie 911
By diggernash on 8/24/2010 7:09:55 PM , Rating: 2
To address the underlying issue, without blaming inorganic objects, would suggest that the citizenry are capable of personal responsibility. This is clearly in violation of the National Park Service employee handbook, Article II, section 5. Also covered in this section is the need for chainlink fences to obstruct "scenic" overlooks to protect people from falling into unforeseen dangers like, THE GRAND CANYON.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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