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Charging for Rescues?
Why not Charge for Rescues?
This is a topic that heats up periodically. Although there is clearly a need for proper funding of volunteer search & rescue teams across the county, charging for rescues is not the way to accomplish this.

Our Official Position is...
Wrightwood/Phelan Search and Rescue is comprised of expert volunteer members who work under authority of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. The Rescue Team has performed search and rescue operations since 1995 without charge to the subject(s).

WPSAR firmly believes that training and education are the keystones in the solution to this issue. We believe that the individual must accept responsibility for his or her actions and that training in proper outdoors skills and for self-rescue might be the quickest and most effective method of resolving most rescue situations.

However, no one should ever be made to feel they must delay in notifying the proper authorities of a search or rescue incident out of fear of possible charges.

WPSAR is proud to be able to provide search and rescue at NO cost and have NO plans to charge in the future.

There are Two Basic Reasons for our Position...
The faster the callout the better the outcome. It is essential that the team be called out as quickly as possible. For every hour that passes an injured subject's condition deteriorates; a hypothermic subject can slip into unconciousness; a lost subject can stumble further away or slip over a cliff. An hour can make a dramatic difference in a rescue situation, increasing the possible search area each minute. We don't want anybody delaying calling 911, hoping that little Johnny will finally make his way out the mountains on his own, simply from the fear of possibly being charged for the rescue. For the missing person's sake we need to be called as soon as possible.

Hiding from rescuers is a bad idea. We need to avoid the situation where the subject hides from the searchers thinking, “If I get to the carpark before they find me then I won't be charged.” There have been instances in the past where the subject has deliberately tried to avoid the searchers. This makes our job substantially more difficult and goes against the entire search and rescue effort.

There will always be cases where the subject does something completely and obviously irresponsible, necessitating a rescue. Then the discussion starts anew about charging for rescues. Keep in mind that such cases are relatively rare.

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