As an "unpaid professional" in the Search and Rescue field, I first want to say thank you to you all who think we should get more funding! My team, the Alameda County Sheriffâ€™s Department Search and Rescue, is ENTIRELY volunteer. And, we earn the title "unpaid professional
Despite being 100% volunteer, search missions do cost money. We still need the trucks and equipment, and we often get assistance from the local police. Getting more funding would probably go the police departments, but if our unit could get more funding, we'd love to keep our gear more up to date- or get working tail lights on our trucks.
However, I agree entirely with the quote in the article. We do not want people to delay in asking for help, because that can cost lives, and that's a price no one should pay.
So, this is my suggestion! Rather than charging people who have legitimate situations- whether their own mistakes, stupidity, daring, lack of knowledge or bad luck- the ones I suggest charging are the people who do NOT honestly need rescuing. Do you know how many searches we go on for run away teens- who are at a friend's house watching TV? Or we go after a husband who's wife has called and said he's suicidal- and he's just a the local bar? In those situations you never know until the end that it's basically a waste of time, so we put just as much effort in to it as any, but after the fact, once we know, then the county should charge them.
I know it doesn't fully prevent people from delaying to call for help- especially since the people that call are usually the ones that think their loved one is in danger, right or wrong- but it wouldn't be as bad as charging people who really are in danger.
And yes, I know some places do not have volunteer search and rescue, and I know some places get a lot fewer "false alarms", but I could see this policy working for my unit, and some others.