What happens if a search & rescue team has to come and pull your tail feathers out of the fire? Well, the answer to that question depends on circumstances.
The truth is that, if you are in trouble, those dedicated individuals who join search & rescue teams and spend years getting trained and practicing their techniques, will make every effort to save you.
To do so, they risk their own lives. They risk personal injury. They spend their own valuable time and money — time and money they might spend going to the beach, a ballgame, or enjoying a BBQ in the backyard with friends and family. Instead, they leave their other pursuits to come to your rescue, often spending miserable days and nights trudging through the backcountry, sleeping on the ground, suffering blisters, hypothermia, sunburn, puncture wounds, and worse.
That's right, there's nothing special about search & rescue team members that prevent them from suffering injuries, illness, exhaustion, dehydration, or any other maladies that befall humans who are spending extensive time in rugged conditions outdoors. They suffer just like you do. And they're willing to do it to save individuals who are in trouble.
The difference is that these folks are trained and prepared, whereas you … if you're the lost victim they're searching for … probably are not trained or prepared. Or maybe you're just stupid.
I accept that some folks end up in bad circumstances totally by accident, but probably 90%+ of those "accidents" could be prevented by proper training and preparation, and then applying a healthy dose of situational awareness. But most of the time we run around with our head where the sun doesn't shine, or we do something purely stupid.
Case in point: In an earlier post, dated April 8, 2013, I reported in a "day hike syndrome" incident involving a couple of young people named Nicholas Cendoya and Kyndall Jack who disappeared during an Easter Sunday hike on a popular Southern California trail.
During the rescue attempt, 1,900 man-hours and more than $160,000 were invested by search & rescue teams in the effort to find these individuals. And one of the search team volunteers took a fall and suffered a severe back injury that required $350,000 of medical intervention, including surgery.
It was a bizarre case, with both of the subjects of the search discovered badly dehydrated, shoeless and separated from each other. Those circumstances raised questions about what really happened out there in the canyon. Were these two the victims of abduction by drug smugglers? Were they kidnapped, their shoes taken, and then deposited in separate parts of the canyon?
Turns out that this might be a case of the victims being stupid. Perhaps "drug stupid." Evidence for that conclusion is the recently revealed fact that sheriff deputies discovered nearly 500 milligrams of meth in Cendoya's car while the teenagers were still lost. (There's a reason they call this stuff Dope — 'cause you're a dope if you use it.) And now the Orange County Fire Authority, and the injured SAR volunteer, are suing Cendoya and Jack to recover the costs incurred by the search. Not only that, but Cendoya is facing criminal charges that might land him in prison.
So, the question is, did these two go into the canyon to do some dope, get themselves mentally trashed, and then go off and lose their shoes and their way, and each other? Kinda looks that way now.
And back to my original question — what happens if you end up being the subject of a search & rescue effort? That all depends on the circumstances, as we can see from this case. If it's a legitimate incident, you probably will be welcomed back into civilization by all your friends and relatives, and the SAR team members who found you will feel happy about the outcome.
But if you're a dope, you might end up getting what you deserve — a huge fine, and those welcoming you into their open arms might be wearing prison uniforms.
Don't be stupid.