New Hampshire Proposes Rescue Fees

Regardless of negligence

Royal Navy Sea King Helicopter

Royal Navy Sea King Helicopter     Photo: ADL999/Flickr

New Hampshire legislators are considering a proposal to start charging for backcountry rescue, a service currently provided free of charge by the state's Fish and Game Department.

The state currently charges for rescue only if negligence can be proven, but the bill on the House floor proposes several different pay options: charging between $350 to $1,000 per service; a flat rate of $500 per incident; or selling an optional rescue insurance card for hikers that would cover any rescue costs. "If you're getting rescued, there should be an expectation you're going to participate in the cost of that rescue," Senate Republican leader and bill co-author Jeb Bradley said.

Fish and Game currently runs an average annual deficit of about $100,000, not surprising when recent rescues have cost between $500 and $50,000. The agency has conducted 954 search-and-rescue missions over six years, costing a total of $1.8 million. Fish and Game is responsible for paying the New Hampshire National Guard for helicopter rescues, which average $4,000 per hour. Fish and Game Major Kevin Jordan says that he doesn't want to have to take the cost into consideration when ordering a helicopter. "We use that service when a life is in the balance, when someone has had a heart attack [on a mountain] and won't survive a carryout," said Jordan.

Via The Republic

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