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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: Boo hoo
By Invane on 8/24/2010 2:13:33 PM , Rating: 4
I also agree. This is not, in my opinion, related to technology at all. This is related to a shift in general populace expectations. They no longer expect to have to be responsible for their own actions or lack of common sense. Instead, someone is supposed to be right there to fix it or they shift the blame to some other person or entity.

However, I do have to disagree with:
Perhaps instead of lashing out at the ills of cell phones and emergency call buttons, they should consider how many lives have been saved by the same technology. Suck it up, and take appropriate action against those who abuse the emergecy system.

The park rangers have a legitimate complaint. They fully understand that technology has saved lives. However, they also do not have unlimited resources. Every time someone pulls one of these stupid stunts, they could potentially be depriving someone who does need help of those limited resources. Telling them to 'suck it up' is not the correct response.

RE: Boo hoo
By JediJeb on 8/24/2010 2:55:50 PM , Rating: 2
You are right. The term "personal responsibility" seems to be totally lacking from the general population's vocabulary these days. If someone got to the top of a summit and then wanted someone to come lead them down because a storm was coming, they should just be told to start running down hill and get ready to get wet. People need to be responsible for their planning or lack there of in these circumstances. Add a big sign at the bottom that says if you don't prepare for the worse, then prepare to suffer the consequences.

RE: Boo hoo
By Invane on 8/24/2010 3:56:46 PM , Rating: 2
Not only that, but our society is fostering this complete lack of accountability. The minute we allow someone to experience the consequences for a poor personal decision or lack of common sense, that person is being allowed to throw the equivalent of a temper tantrum using our legal system. Every time someone wins one of these frivolous lawsuits, we reinforce the idea that it was someone else's fault for not jumping in to save them from their own idiocy.

Apologies for going a little off topic.

RE: Boo hoo
By Lerianis on 8/25/2010 10:33:00 AM , Rating: 1
Wrong, Invane. The fact is that people do NOT expect to not be responsible for their own actions. They expect to not be bashed upon when they refuse to stay IN THEIR HOMES GETTING FAT!

Seriously, if you go out in the wild, there is a chance that you are going to get hurt, and if you are taking a picture of an animal from 75 METERS away.... there is a chance that they will not like that and charge you!

Getting 'too close' to an animal is a cop-out for these park and rec people, who don't want to do their jobs and don't want to realize that one of the things that people come to the parks for: TO TAKE PICTURES OF WILDLIFE!

With most 'point and shoots' today.... to get a good picture, you got to be pretty damned close to what you are photographing.

RE: Boo hoo
By JediJeb on 8/25/2010 2:53:36 PM , Rating: 2
With most 'point and shoots' today.... to get a good picture, you got to be pretty damned close to what you are photographing.

Not really an excuse there, if you want to take a photo of a wild animal invest in better equipment.

Wrong, Invane. The fact is that people do NOT expect to not be responsible for their own actions. They expect to not be bashed upon when they refuse to stay IN THEIR HOMES GETTING FAT!

The problem here is that those people running outside fail to do some simple research like finding out if standing 50 feet from a Bison to take it's photo is dangerous. Instead most take the stance that they are indestructable and that even nature should bend to their will so they can enjoy it as they please with no respect for the true danger inherant in a natural setting.

Personal responsibility not only means taking the responsibility of planning ahead, but also taking the blame when you screw up instead of trying to pass it off on everyone else.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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