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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 LRonaldHubbs on 8/24/2010 9:22:42 AM , Rating: 2
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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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