Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Hiking Utah
Tribune Reporters
By Nate Carlisle, Jason Bergreen, Erin Alberty and Brett Prettyman

» Twitter: @UtahHikes

» E-mail

» Subscribe (RSS)

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Family members of Oknom Shim Han wait at command center at White Pine trailhead in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Wednesday, July 11, 2012, as Salt Lake County Unified Police Department search and rescue and SWAT team members gather to resume their search. Han was found alive and well later Wednesday.
Getting lost and calling 'yuppie 911'

If you've ever gotten lost on the hiking trail and called for help, writer David Roberts has some harsh words for you.

Roberts, a mountaineer and author, wrote an opinion piece href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/14/opinion/when-gps-leads-to-s-o-s.html?_r=1&hp" target="_blank">published yesterday by The New York Times. He says the proliferation of communication technology and emergency beacons are creating unnecessary calls for help and endangering the lives of rescuers.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

In Utah, there are href="http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/51259527-78/search-county-equipment-rescue.html.csp" target="_blank">hundreds of searches and rescues every year. There's so many the state has created a special fund to reimburse the counties for some of the costs.

From Roberts' piece:

Search-and-rescue outfits around the country are grappling regularly with "false alerts" and novices’ getting in over their heads because they think gadgetry guarantees safety. More and more folks are carrying personal locator beacons, or P.L.B.’s, into the backcountry. With the push of a button they can send out an emergency distress signal, but no information about their predicament.

Matt Scharper, search and rescue coordinator for the California Emergency Management Agency, calls the locator beacons "yuppie 911’s," adding, "You send a message to a satellite and the government pulls your butt out of something you shouldn’t have been in in the first place." Nick Parker, a veteran of 45 years of wilderness rescues in Alaska, said in an e-mail: "The real issue is one of training (or lack thereof), and of our dependence on gizmos to save us. People expect a rescue in the same way they expect a fire engine or ambulance to come when they dial 911."

Roberts goes on to quote a source saying these devices have saved a lot of lives. To most of us, that would be the point. But Roberts adds the devices have created a population of outdoor goers who "not only expect to be whisked to safety at the push of a button, they regard this luxury as an inalienable right."

Also, Robert raises a legitimate question of whether government should be providing rescue services for free or charge for it. On the whole, Robert's opinion piece preaches the need for personal responsibility and good sense in the outdoors.

People tend to practice those when they have an incentive. How do we reduce the number of search and rescues in Utah?

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.