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Montreat College Virtuoso Series 2 Day Outdoor Recreation Management, Insurance & Law Program

2 packed Days with information you can put to use immediately. Information compiled from 30 years in court and 45 years in the field.get_outside_12066-2

Whatever type of Program you have, you’ll find information and answers to your risk management, insurance and legal questions.

CoverYou’ll also receive a copy of my new book Outdoor Recreation Insurance, Risk Management, and Law

Get these Questions Answered

What has changed in the law Concerning Releases? What states still allow releases and which ones do not. What changes have been made in how releases are written? How can you make sure your release is not as affected by these changes?

Everyone is excited about Certificates of Insurance. Why this excitement is not valid and why most of them don’t work. What must you do to make a certificate of insurance work for your program?

What is an assumption of risk document and why are they important. How can your website be used to prove assumption of the risk.

How should you write a risk management plan that does not end up being used against you in court?

How do you handle an accident so it does not become a claim or a lawsuit.

Put February 24 & 25th on your Calendar Now.

Course Curriculum

1.    Assumption of the Risk

1.1. Still a valid defense in all states

1.2. Defense for claims by minors in all states

1.3. Proof of your guests assuming the risk is the tough part.

1.3.1.   Paperwork proves what they know

1.3.1.1.       Applications

1.3.1.2.       Releases

1.3.1.3.       Brochures

1.3.2.   The best education is from your website

1.3.2.1.       Words

1.3.2.2.       Pictures

1.3.2.3.       Videos

2.    Releases

2.1. Where they work

2.1.1.   Where they work for kids

2.2. Why they work

2.2.1.   Contract

2.2.2.   Exculpatory Clause

2.2.3.   Necessary Language

2.2.4.   What kills Releases

2.2.4.1.       Jurisdiction & Venue

2.2.4.2.       Assumption of the Risk

2.2.4.3.       Negligence Per Se

2.2.4.4.        

3.    Risk Management Plans

3.1. Why yours won’t work

3.2. Why they come back and prove your negligence in court

3.2.1.   Or at least make you look incompetent

3.3. What is needed in a risk management plan

3.3.1.   How do you structure and create a plan

3.3.2.   Top down writing or bottom up.

3.3.2.1.       Goal is what the front line employee knows and can do

4.    Dealing with an Incident

4.1. Why people sue

4.2. What you can do to control this

4.2.1.   Integration of pre-trip education

4.2.2.   Post Incident help

4.2.3.   Post Incident communication

You can decided how your program is going to run!blind_leading_blind_pc_1600_clr

hikers_1600_clr_9598

Put the date on your calendar now: February 24 and 25th 2017 at Montreat College, Montreat, NC 28757

$399 for both days and the book!

For more information contact Jim Moss rec.law@recreation.law.com

To register contact John Rogers , Montreat College Team and Leadership Center Director, jrogers@montreat.edu (828) 669- 8012 ext. 2761

 

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Sometimes you wish the defendant would lose when a fireman prevents a rescue by someone who probably could have saved the deceased’s life

At the same time, any claim for “negligent rescue” would put thousands of SAR volunteers at risk.

Decker, v. City of Imperial Beach, 209 Cal. App. 3d 349; 257 Cal. Rptr. 356; 1989 Cal. App. LEX-IS 301

State: California, Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division One

Plaintiff: Glenn A. Decker

Defendant: City of Imperial Beach

Plaintiff Claims: Failure to properly rescue and failure to allow rescue

Defendant Defenses:

Holding: For the Defendants

Year: 1989

The deceased and a friend went surfing off the city beach. There were no lifeguards on duty because it was not summer. Lifeguards were only at work during the summer season. The defendant city does not provide lifeguards for the beach except in the summer.

The defendant’s leash for his surfboard got caught on a line for a lobster trap and he eventually drowned.

While the deceased was still alive several people attempted to assist the deceased until the fire department showed up. On the scene the Fire Chief ordered no more rescues.

An Imperial Beach firefighter, Olin Golden, who was a water safety instructor and life guard, contacted Hewitt about the situation and borrowed Hewitt’s wet suit and surfboard.  Imperial Beach Fire Chief Ronald Johnston ordered Hewitt and Golden and all other would-be rescuers to remain on the beach and not to attempt a rescue.

Eventually, the deceased died without being rescued and his body floated to shore. His mother sued the city for the botched rescue or actually no rescue. The trial court granted the cities motion for summary judgment.

This appeal then occurred.

Analysis: making sense of the law based on these facts.

The court first started looking at the requirements for summary judgment in California.

The aim of the summary judgment procedure is to discover whether the parties possess evidence requiring the fact-weighing procedures of a trial. “[The] trial court in ruling on a motion for summary judgment is merely to determine whether such issues of fact exist, and not to decide the merits of the issues themselves.” In reviewing the propriety of a summary judgment, the appellate court must resolve all doubts in favor of the party opposing the judgment.

A defendant is entitled to summary judgment if the record establishes as a matter of law that none of the plaintiff’s asserted causes of action can prevail.

The city first argued that it owed no duty because surfing was a hazardous recreational activity and there was a statute that protected it from liability issues of such activities.

Government Code 2 section 831.7 provides a public entity is not “liable to any person who participates in a hazardous recreational activity . . .  for any damage or injury to property or persons arising out of that hazardous recreational activity.” Surfing is specifically included as a “hazardous recreational activity.” (§ 831.7, subd. (b)(3).)

In reviewing the statute the court found the legislature had you broad language in creating the statute in order to provide the broadest protection for the municipalities.

Instead, the Legislature used expansive language to describe the scope of the immunity, stating it applied to “any damage or injury to property or persons arising out of that hazardous recreational activity.” (Italics added.) This broad language is reasonably susceptible to an interpretation that it was intended to preclude liability for negligently inflicted injuries while rescuing a person who has been participating in a hazardous recreational activity since it can be said the rescue effort “arises out of” the individual’s participation in the hazardous recreational activity.

The court looked at the issues in the case and found the statute was created to encourage rescue. If any rescue was subject to litigation afterwards, no rescues would occur.

The act did seem to have an exception for gross negligence.

An interpretation of the hazardous recreational activities immunity to immunize public entities and their employees for acts of emergency rescue services unless there is gross negligence furthers the strong public policy encouraging rescues and emergency assistance.

However, no gross negligence claim was pled, and none was found in this case.

The court then looked at the Fire Chief “precluding other assistance.”

The facts show Imperial Beach firefighter Olin Golden borrowed Hewitt’s wet suit and requested permission to attempt a surf rescue of Gary.  Decker states Golden “was a water safety instructor and a life guard trained in surf rescue.” While Decker presented evidence showing Golden was a water safety instructor and lifeguard, nothing in the record indicates Golden was experienced in surf rescue. Rather, the record indicates Golden had given swimming lessons at a high school pool and had guarded the pool; this was the information known to the fire chief at the time he told Golden to stay on the beach. Under these circumstances, it cannot be said the fire chief’s refusal to allow Golden to attempt a surf rescue constituted gross negligence.

Here the court found the duty of the fire chief in precluding the rescue was based on protecting the rescuer. As such the acts of preventing a possible rescue were not grossly negligent.

The next argument made by the plaintiff, was, the rescue technique used was antiquated and prevented a proper rescue.

Decker presented testimony by Charles Chase, an experienced lifeguard supervisor.  Chase testified about the rescue method used by the Sheriff’s dive team (sending out a diver tethered to a rope) as follows: “A life line type rescue is used in special circumstances, but it would never be used with a strong side current [as was the case here] and it would never be used if you could get there quicker in a better way, and it’s a specialized form of rescue. Years and years ago the life line rescue was quite common, and that was prior to the use or the availability of, say, fins and also the availability of good swimmers.  If you go back to the 20’s, they had a limited amount of people that could swim as well as a lot of people can swim now and fins weren’t available.”

The court found the technique was disfavored, but did not rise to the level of gross negligence in this case.

This testimony could support a finding that use of the lifeline rescue method is a disfavored surf rescue method and would not be used by an experienced, trained surf rescuer but it does not support a finding the sheriff’s dive team was grossly negligent for having used this method given their lack of training or experience in surf rescue.

Finding no gross negligence on the part of the fire chief or the fire department the appellate court upheld the trial court’s granting of the motion for summary judgment.

So Now What?

This is one of those cases that frustrated the heck out of me. Yet, overall, in hundreds of other situations, this is the good outcome. It will save a lot more other people because rescuing someone will not be a liability nightmare.

This is how the law is to be applied both as it applies to the individual parties who are in the case and future litigants, searches and victims of the city.

Sad, but true.

clip_image002What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Author: Outdoor Recreation Insurance, Risk Management and Law

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Copyright 2016 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law

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SAR volunteer may sue victims he was searching for when he was injured

Sort of a reverse from the normal situation

A 19 and a 20-year-old idiot got lost earlier this spring in Trabuco Canyon, California. During the search for the men, one SAR volunteer fell over a cliff breaking his back. One of the lost men had a significant quantity of drugs in his car, and the two were suspected of being high, thus the cause of them getting lost.

If the lost victim completes a drug diversion program, this will not allow the injured SAR volunteer from seeking compensation for his injuries, which allegedly total $350,000.

There are two problems with the issue of suing the idiots.

1.   They probably don’t have a dime to their name which means it would be a waste of time and money.

2.   I’m not sure of the necessary legal connection, proximate cause, or link between being allegedly illegally high and lost connects to a volunteer who falls off a cliff.

You sort of hope he can, but I think this will open up a bigger can of worms than charging for rescues. See the Facebook page No Charge for Rescue.

See SAR Volunteer to Sue Trabuco Teens

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Copyright 2013 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law

Email: Rec-law@recreation-law.com

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Facebook Page: Outdoor Recreation & Adventure Travel Law

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Mobile Site: http://m.recreation-law.com

By Recreation Law    Rec-law@recreation-law.com      James H. Moss         #Authorrank

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Bill Introduced into the Colorado Legislature to provide additional protection to CO SAR Teams and EMS providers

If you live in CO, please support this bill.

SB 13-038: Providing for Confidentiality of Certain Communications of Emergency Responders

On Wednesday, January 16, 2013, Sen. David Balmer introduced SB 13-038 – Concerning the

English: Search and Rescue: Rig Training. Lowe...

Confidentiality of Certain Communications Among Emergency Responders. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

Current law makes certain communications between law enforcement officers and firefighters and their peer support team members confidential for purposes of testifying in court. The bill extends this confidentiality to emergency medical service providers and members of rescue units. The bill is assigned to the Judiciary Committee.

Since this summary, the Judiciary Committee referred the bill, unamended, to the Consent Calendar of the Senate Committee of the Whole.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Research shows beacons have issues with multivictim searches

Problems may be more prevalent with older models of beacons

The issue is that some beacons will mask another beacon. If two victims with beacons are buried in close proximity then you may only see the one victim.

The article and issues are complex and are still be investigated, however if you are a professional or possibly use your beacon in multivictim situations you should read the article.

See Problems with multivictim searches or watch a Video about the issue.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Personal Locator Beacons

Technology, Idiots and Instructions: two of these always seem to get connected and the third one never gets read or used!

The question with no answers yet when you discuss Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) is: does the use of PLB’s encourage IIW’s (Idiots in the Wilderness)?

Until such time that we can answer the question, the issue becomes how we get people to read the instructions on how to use, not use and turn off personal locator beacons.

Why? Because they are as much of a problem as they are a lifesaver. SAR reports are full of situations where the beacons came on accidentally (Steve Howe’s Rescue Call from Denali), were switched on when they did not need to be (Yuppie 911) or the people no longer needed rescued but did not turn the PLB’s off.

This is not counting the IIW who thought his PLB was an avalanche beacon, (Alpine Rescue Team needs your help – PLB false alerts in Berthoud Pass (Colorado) area, This is starting to become stupid, Well they found him. He thought his PLB was an avalanche beacon.)
Or the IIW’s who thought the park service was a personal valet called by their PLB, Grand Canyon hikers summon rescue helicopter with beacon because their water ‘tasted salty’.

These examples are the extreme ones that make the news. What does not get press are the constant calls and responses by Search and Rescue (SAR) groups. A major reason is people do not read the instructions with the PLB or do not have access to all the instructions. ?

Yes, a lot of the information on how to use some PLB’s is either hard or impossible to find. So when the information below floated by, I knew I had to post it.


If you own a Spot PLB, or going out with someone who does read the following. You may even want to print this information out and carry it with you.

** During a SAR, would the agency be able to access the person’s online shared page (useful to look at historic progress to estimate hiking speed, ability and route decisions).
Only if contact is made with one of the registered owner’s emergency contacts, and they have the link and are willing to share the password and login to view the historical data received from the unit.
** What if a signal is sent and SPOT is not registered?
SPOT will NOT transmit an SOS/911 signal, unless the SPOT unit is registered with active service.
** COMMAND > OFF: Does turning the unit off while a function is active send a message, e.g., does it send a cancellation message for any command?
(Some users think so, but probably not.)
No, Powering the SPOT unit down or off does not send a cancel message but stops the message cycle. The only message mode that can send a cancel message is Help and SOS/911. To do so, the unit has to already be active in either Help or SOS/911 mode. Next, press and hold the Help or SOS/911 button until the LED light for that message mode turns blinks red. Cancel works like Check-In. It sends one message repeated 3 times. So it takes about 15-20 minutes to complete its cycle.
** COMMAND > OFF > ON: If a function is active and the unit is turned off and then on, does the function resume (via internal memory, after the self-test) or does turning the unit off erase any command?
The function will need to be reactivated once the device is turned on. Messages are not stored. The SPOT unit will only be powered on and in “stand-by” mode until a message function is engaged.
**If the unit can’t get GPS coordinates it won’t send an OK message. (Unlike HELP and 911)
Confirm that if SPOT can’t get location it won’t send an OK message.
This is correct. SPOT will not transmit a message in the Check-ok, Custom Message or Tracking mode, unless it has a GPS fix. However, SPOT will still transmit the message in the Help and SOS/911 modes if it doesn’t have a GPS fix. This way, the IERCC can look at previous messages to get an idea of the location and begin processing for additional information. Both Help and SOS/911 modes transmit every 5 minutes so if one message doesn’t have a GPS fix, the next ones may. The GPS chipset will continue to look for 4 minutes between cycles.
Cancel HELP by pressing HELP button until it turns red.
This is done by pressing and holding the Help message function button until the message function button LED light turns blinks red. This unit must already be in the Help or SOS/911 mode in order to send a cancel message.
** Does cancellation message repeat?
Both Help and SOS/911 message cancellation sends one message repeated over 3 attempts times in a 15-20 minute cycle to ensure reliability.
** If there is no 911 message, but the team sees HELP, thinks there is trouble and calls IERCC, can IERCC access data?
The IERCC does have the capability to contact technical support personnel that can access the data. This does take several minutes to access. Keep in mind, if someone receives a SPOT Help message, it will contain the SPOT ESN number, Lat and Long coordinates, the SPOT user’s pre-programmed message and a link to Google Maps.
** Why doesn’t website or manual give examples of how HELP has been useful and suggestions for effective use, e.g., a preplan for Team?
SPOT has highlighted user case studies using both the Help and SOS/911 button on the Rescues and testimonial section of findmespot.com, online newsletter, and retail in-store videos. However, SPOT is currently working on a user tips campaign to help educate SPOT users on best practice and operation procedures for each message mode especially for Help and SOS/911. SPOT is increasing these efforts to user education.
** What happens if you send a second 911 (press the button briefly) while SPOT is sending its stream of 911 messages?
This will NOT disrupt the SOS/911 message cycle. The only interruption will result from a Cancel or Power Off function.
** Does 911 resume if the device is turned OFF then turned ON, or dead batteries are replaced?
Probably not, otherwise there would be false alarms. 911 will send a distress message, even if can’t get location. (Like HELP)
SOS/911 will ONLY transmit a message when the SPOT unit is powered ON and the user activated the SOS/911 mode by pressing the button. It will NOT resume if the device is turned off and back on or if the batteries die and are then replaced. This stops the message function.
Yes, SOS/911 will transmit a message, even if SPOT doesn’t have the GPS location fix. This is very beneficial as it allows the IERCC the opportunity to begin its process of gathering additional information and working coordinating efforts. They also have the ability to review previous messages (OK, Track or Help) that may have been sent prior, giving an idea of the area where the SPOT user is located.
** Does the distress message go out every 5 minutes until batteries die? (Manual doesn’t say.)
Yes, the SOS/911 message will transmit every 5 minutes for the life of the battery until cancelled or the device is turned off. (pg 16 of the SPOT 2 user manual). The manual for the original SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker does not state this. However, the FAQ section of findmespot.com does state this.
** Do all subsequent signals, including OK, Tracking, and HELP go to IERC?
If the 911/SOS function is activated the IERCC will be able to view all additional functions leading up to the 911/SOS activation and any additional functions activated after the emergency activation until the incident is resolved on the IERCC’s monitoring software.
** Do any subsequent signals, e.g., OK or HELP, go to Team and or to web account?
All the subsequent signals from the device are able to be viewed on the shared page for the device and/or the contacts whom the registered owner has selected an e-mail notification be sent to.
“GEOS Alliance™ operators call customer’s contacts to confirm if the user is potentially in a life threatening emergency.”
Prior to contacting emergency services in the event that a 911/SOS alert is received, IERCC SAR Mission Coordinators (SMC) and Watch Standers (W/S) will attempt to contact the registered owner at the contact numbers provided. This is to try and gather additional information that may be helpful to rescue agencies but also is used to help determine quickly if the signal was a false alarm. (Is the unit currently with the registered owner or was it lent to a friend for a trip, known medical conditions, etc.) If contact is not made with the registered owner, or it is determined that the device is not in the registered owner’s possession. The SMC will contact emergency services based on the latitude and longitude and pass the information regarding the incident. At the same time, IERCC W/S’s begin contacting the registered owner’s emergency contacts to gather additional information that can aid emergency personnel in affecting a rescue. This information will be passed as it is received from the registered owner’s contacts. Throughout an incident IERCC personnel will continue to stay in contact or attempt to contact the registered owner’s emergency contacts to gather additional information to pass to emergency services.
** What proof does the IERCC accept that there is no emergency after 911 activation?
Contact with the registered owner confirming the false alarm, confirmation from emergency services that contact has been made with the registered owner or that registered owner has been located.
What does SPOT pamphlet/instructions say about what constitutes an emergency?
User manual states: For life-threatening or other critical situations.
Website states: Use this function. In the event of a life threatening or other critical emergencies to notify emergency services of your GPS location, and that you need assistance.
** When does the IERCC stop monitoring SPOT after a 911 and returns to normal operations?
After it is confirmed that assistance is no longer needed from the registered owner/or the emergency personnel informs the IERCC that they have located and assisted the individuals in need.
** What else does IERCC ask contacts?
Itinerary, number in party, activity, skill level, names/ages of parties involved, medical history, supplies and equipment, descriptions, last contact, vehicle description.
** Does GEOS dispatch have a written protocol and/or list of questions to ask emergency contacts?
YES
** Can we get a copy of that SOP?
To ensure operational security I cannot release the IERCC’s SOP. The questions are based on the listed categories above. We can put in place a Memorandum of Understanding as we have in place with various Rescue Coordination Centers and response agencies.
** Will the IERCC always release the emergency contact information?
The IERCC release’s all the information obtained regarding an incident to ensure that SAR personnel have all the details available to facilitate the SAR response. The information passed includes, but is not limited to: position, location from a prominent landmark, registered owner name, registered owners contact information, including address and e-mail address, emergency contacts names and numbers, number of people involved, itinerary, description, known health concerns, vehicle description, age, skill level, supplies and equipment. Obtaining some of this information is dependent on contact being made with the registered owners’ emergency contacts.
** IERCC only gives out geographic (e.g. physical description to geo feature) location if asked – not SOP. True?
This is not true; the IERCC is capable of passing the location in several formats. If there is a prominent landmark (i.e. trail head, lake, road, ranger station) available our personnel will pass that information to emergency services.
911 Cancellation Message
Cancel 911 by depressing the 911 button > 5 sec or until button flashes red.
Correct
** Does a 911 cancellation go only to IERCC? I think so.
Yes
** Does a 911 cancellation continue every 5 minutes until turned off or batteries die, like a 911?
No, the cancel sends one message over three attempts over a 15-20 minute cycle. (same as Check/OK)
** If you activate 911, then turn the unit off, does that send a cancellation message?
If the unit is turned off while the 911/SOS function is active the unit does not send a cancel message, and it also does not send a message stating that the unit has been turned off. With that being said there is no way to determine if the unit has been turned off or is experiencing interference sending the message out so our personnel continue to work at an incident until confirmation has been made that there is no longer an emergency. Simply not receiving updates from the unit does not mean the IERCC resolves the incident.
** What happens if the first command you give is a 911 cancellation, without first activating 911? I.e., you hold the button down for > 5 sec? Does it simply go out as 911 or does holding down the button prevent 911 and send a cancellation? Or something else?
The unit can actually send a cancellation message to the IERCC without receiving a 911 message first. This has happened only on one occasion.
** If you sent a 911, but you didn’t notice that it didn’t go out, and then you sent a cancellation that did go out, would the IERC only see a cancellation with no previous 911?
Yes it can happen, but again it has only happened once in over two years. It should be mentioned that the unit’s LED would inform the user that one of the two functions were enabled.
** How would the IERCC respond in that case? Would they notify the EMA?
Our personnel will attempt to contact the registered owner and the emergency contacts to try and gather information on the incident. If contact is not made and if a position is available emergency services will be contacted. In these case emergency services will be advised that the activation was received in the cancel mode.
** Is this scenario possible or is it stupid? (I’m assuming totally ignorant users.)
It is possible.
** Can trying to send another 911 message while 911 is already activated, unintentionally send a 911 cancellation if the button is depressed too long? I assume so. This would occur if the user were panicked and/or didn’t understand the device and thought he had to keep sending 911 manually. For example, a bystander trying to operate the victim’s SPOT.
Yes if the user fails to operate the unit correctly.
** What happens when you send a 911 cancellation and then send OK?
The IERCC will see the both messages and inform the responding agency of the messages. The listed contacts under the users OK message profile will only receive the OK message as an SMS text, an email, or on the registered owners shared page. This provides additional info to the IERCC which can be communicated to the agency.
** What if the first 911 cancellation didn’t get out?
SPOT attempts to send 3 cancellation messages over a 15-20 minute cycle.
** If the SPOT only sends one 911 cancellation, not every 5 minutes like a 911 message, couldn’t they miss it if the signal doesn’t get out? Or does the SPOT know that and keep trying?
SPOT has a 99.94% reliability rate for message transmissions. However, if the unit did not have a clear view of the sky than its possible the cancellation message may never be received.
** After a 911, if you skip the 911 cancel message and just hit OK, what does the IERCC see?
The only way that an O.K. message can be sent after activating the 911 feature is to cancel the 911, or turn off the device and then turn it back on and send an O.K. message. The IERCC will see that the O.K. message was sent from the device after the last 911 message. Personnel from the IERCC will then inform the responding agency of the receipt of the O.K. message.
** Does OK have no effect in that situation, since 911 overrides OK?
Emergency Services will be informed of the O.K. message being sent. That is the only effect it has on the issue.
** If it does send an OK (with no 911 cancel signal) that the same as a 911 cancellation to the IERCC?
No it is not the same; people may send O.K. messages to inform their friends and families that they are not injured. This does not mean that an emergency exists with someone else or that assistance is still needed. We do not have the means to make that determination.
** What does a 911 cancellation message say?
The cancellation message changes the status of the incident on our monitoring software; it also stops the receipt of any additional 911 messages.
** Does GEOS understand that agencies cannot usually cancel their response without direct contact with the user (or the SPOT)?
Every member of our team are either current first responders working on a part time basis, former first responders, or former military search and rescue professionals. So yes everyone is aware of response procedures and policies.
Per manual, use 911/HELP combination to notify IERCC and your team simultaneously.
GEOS recommends against this combination. (To keep the team from interfering.)
Correct.
Miscellaneous Questions and Comments
** Does SPOT keep data on false reports?
Yes we use a shared ticket/call log system, so SPOT has access to all the data inputted from the IERCC.
** What is SPOT’s false alarm rate? (That might be hard to quantify.)
As with any emergency device false alarms can occur. However, in excess of 90% of the false alarms are determined to be a false alarm prior to emergency services being contacted.
** If we are searching for someone, say a non-SPOT user, can we get a map showing SPOT users in the area who have activated their tracking function, and thereby know where we might find witnesses?
I’m not sure this will be useful, but I won’t know until I ask.

In my opinion, this information could be very useful for SAR personnel. Unfortunately, the problem is that we would have to have the ESN’s of every device in the area.

Thanks to Spot for providing this information. I would encourage all makers of PLB’s to make this information available and make it easily findable on their websites.

Otherwise IWW’s will get charged for SARs, something we are trying to prevent. See No Charge for Rescue.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Copyright 2010 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law, Recreation.Law@Gmail.com

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Grief over son’s death and lack of knowledge about SAR leads to book about SAR in the US.

The article points out what the father did not know. The book is also a way to deal with the loss of a son.

Jon Francis was lost climbing an Idaho peak in 2005. After two days of searching the search (SAR) was called off. His father did not and continues to not understand why the SAR was canceled.

His son was eventually found by paid searches’ months later. The issues of pleading for help and not understanding SAR in the US lead to the creation of this book. The book was self-published, probably meaning no book publisher would publish it.

The article is full of interesting statements about SAR in the US today. Most of the statements show a total lack of knowledge about how SAR works, both by the father of the missing climber and the journalist who wrote the article.

The father’s grief and frustration come through the most in the article. He describes the reasons why the search was eventually canceled as the people involved in the search were “risk averse.” Yet the search for his son ran longer than 90% of the searches in the US.

His grief also comes through in his reasons for writing the book. He wanted the world to know about his son.
A volunteer who is putting his life on the line, for free, looking for someone who died is not risk averse. The person who must live with the loss of a volunteer from a SAR that goes wrong is not risk averse. These people are volunteers. They are hiking the same trails that killed the son. They are doing this for a multitude of reasons, and will do so to the verge of exhaustion if necessary. They are undertaking the same risks that killed the son. How a grieving father can call volunteers undertaking the identical risk that killed his son as risk averse is unbelievable to me.

The father did not understand that SAR in most states is controlled by the Sheriff. In a few states, other agencies are in charge of SAR. There is a nationwide SAR organization, but the organization NASAR does not run searches. It only assists local organizations.

It is hard to tell, but I don’t believe that the father ever looked at the risk the SAR searches were facing. He wanted his son’s body back so badly, that the lives of others did not seem to register as an issue to him. This may be the way the journalist wrote the article, or it may be an issue. Yet this issue cannot be denied. No body is worth a life.

This is a sad story and probably a sad book. However, there are several things we can learn from this.
Grief in the US is an unbelievably strong motivator. People do not die in the US before they have lived a long life. If they do, we do not accept it. Here the grief led to the creation of an organization to assist others in finding lost people, a book and a five year condemnation of the SAR system.

People in the US do not understand how SAR works. SAR is done by volunteers except in some National Parks. Those volunteers work at the behest and in most cases control of the local sheriff.

SAR volunteers do not get the support, the equipment or most importantly the thanks they deserve.
See The father of a man who died on an Idaho peak wants to reform search and rescue.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Copyright 2010 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law, Recreaton.Law@Gmail.com

© 2010 James H. Moss

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