Monday, February 21, 2011

In Harm’s Way: Are There Consequences?

What if I decide that I want to go “in harms’ way”? It is my right as an American citizen, isn’t it? Then what if things go wrong and harm befalls me? Who picks up the pieces? Let’s look at some recent examples of folks who went in harm’s way.

On February 20th, two West Point Cadets decided to practice rappelling on Storm King Mountain. It was not part of their curriculum to rappel on a Sunday. The day was cold and very windy, possibly not the best day to climb a mountain. They became stranded on a rocky ledge and called for help via cell phone. Eight hours later after attempts to rescue them from the ground failed and in 50 mph winds and 20 degrees temperatures, a daring helicopter rescue was carried out by heroic NYPD cops. Thanks to luck and skill, no one was hurt.

Despite the common knowledge that pirates lurk near Somalia, some incredibly naïve [or incredibly stupid] people sailed their 58 foot yacht into dangerous waters off the coast of Oman last week and were captured. According to the New York Times, one of the party of four on the boat blogged before heading into the area, “I have NO [sic] idea what will happen in these ports, but perhaps we’ll do some local touring.” No doubt they will be seeing some very interesting sights.

In 2009, three American hikers wandered across the Iraqi border into Iran and were captured. One of the hikers, a woman was released on “humanitarian grounds” because she was sick. Also, $500,000 was posted as “bail.” The other two hikers, both males, are still being held. As lovely as Iraq seems from the pictures I’ve seen, it has to be right up there with Somalia as a place where I would not like to hike. But let’s compound the folly by straying into Iran.

What have we learned here?

People either don’t listen or feel that they are immune to the consequences of their actions. It is this same lack of accountability that permits people to smoke, drink alcohol to excess, not exercise, eat too much or use addictive drugs. Don’t worry, you will be cared for.

ADDENDUM [February 22, 2011]

Sadly, the four Americans on the yacht were killed. This tragedy did not have to happen. Details are a bit sketchy but four American warships and aerial drones are said to have been following the yacht. A spokesman for the pirates apparently had warned that the captives would be killed if any rescue attempts were made.


Anonymous said...

People who do this type of thing despite warning really PMO!! I have always thought that if in a national park setting (where they can access information on weather/safety), they need to buy some kind of special catastrophic "sports/recreation/accident" insurance from the park service OR sign a waiver that if they get lost/hurt/stuck they understand that they are "bear food". Also international travelers that go wandering for "adventure" into danger areas, need to buy some kind of commando/medic insurance (not involving our government) should they wish for attempts to be made for their retrieval. If no arrangements have been made, well then too bad.

Most of these cases are those in which information has been received, or could easily have been found prior to going on the "adventure". I don't want any more of my tax dollars or fellow medical/rescue people in harms way for stupidity. And I want to make sure that all costs involved in any rescue of this type be reimbursed.

I'm done.

busysynch mac said...

Or raid the public fisc to buy votes and campaign support from the public service unions. Don't worry. We'll just soak the rich, or inflate the currency by "stimulating" the economy.

Knot Telling said...

In Israel, when people get into situations that require search & rescue teams, helicopter evacuations, etc. they are billed for the cost of the rescue.* Is there something like that in the US?

*I don't know the rate of actual repayment, though. It would be interesting to find out;.

Skeptical Scalpel said...


I think some agencies are starting to charge for these rescues, but the practice is not widespread. It's been limited to the searches for lost hikers and mountain climbers in the Western US.

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