Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, October 25, 2021

Weekend warriors imbued with more GPS-forged bravery than common sense are becoming a big headache for search-and-rescue teams:

Technology has made calling for help instantaneous even in the most remote places. Because would-be adventurers can send GPS coordinates to rescuers with the touch of a button, some are exploring terrain they do not have the experience, knowledge or endurance to tackle.

Rescue officials are deciding whether to start keeping statistics on the problem, but the incidents have become so frequent that the head of California’s Search and Rescue operation has a name for the devices: Yuppie 911.

“Now you can go into the back country and take a risk you might not normally have taken,” says Matt Scharper, who coordinates a rescue every day in a state with wilderness so rugged even crashed planes can take decades to find. “With the Yuppie 911, you send a message to a satellite and the government pulls your butt out of something you shouldn’t have been in in the first place.”

The genie’s not going back in the bottle, so here’s the solution: Make it clear that the first time the panic button is pushed will be the last time. In other words, invoking a rescue crew via a GPS signal means that you get rescued, and that your excursion is over. The crew pulls you out of there, and then sends you on your way home. It doesn’t matter how serious or how trivial the purpose of the call was — calling for help means you’re giving up and getting your butt hauled out of there, so that you can’t do any more damage to yourself or to the people risking their tails to help you. That way, the rescue signal isn’t used more than once, and doesn’t mobilized a response more than that one time (which is how it should be anyway).

I think the prospects of a weekend trip cut short will be sufficient deterrent against frequent and casual SOS calls for things like an overly-salty bottle of water. Require every manufacturer to put a sticker with this stipulation on their devices, so that even the densest yuppie can’t miss it. Hopefully, they’ll skip the outback hike and go rent a Segway instead…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/25/2009 08:07 PM
Category: Society, Tech
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback