No Charge to Rescue Heats Up

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After the Colorado Search and Rescue Board (CSARB) successfully helped convince one mountain town to stop charging for rescues, municipal public safety agencies seem to be sending more bills. According to the New York Times last week, if you need help from police or fire, don't be surprised to get a bill, the so-called “crash tax.”  

Eight states can lawfully bill for search and rescue services. Remember the teenager in New Hampshire's White Mountains who was sent a $25,000 tab? The Mountain Rescue Association and National Association for Search and Rescue are adamantly against cost recovery in this manner. The reason: it promotes a delay in a call for help.

The CSARB recently posted first-hand accounts of those who put the kaibash on calling 911 for fear of getting dinged for cash. Of the success, CSARB Public Affairs Manager Howard Paul said, “We got Golden, Colorado, to change municipal code to stop charging for rescue. Citizens and businesses involved in recreation took the lead, because the policy hurt tourism in outdoor recreation.”

Follow the simmering controversy on Facebook's No Charge for Rescue, 2,700 fans strong.

Christopher Van Tilburg, MD

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