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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 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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