Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 77° Clear
Sports >  Outdoors

As search and rescue calls go up nationwide, Spokane County reports normal numbers

A helicopter flies past the crater of Mount St. Helens Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 16, 2010, during the search for a climber who fell 1,500 feet into the dormant crater of the volcano.  (Ted S. Warren)
A helicopter flies past the crater of Mount St. Helens Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 16, 2010, during the search for a climber who fell 1,500 feet into the dormant crater of the volcano. (Ted S. Warren)

Outdoor recreation of all kinds has increased during the global pandemic – and with it, calls for rescue.

In early April, the New York Times published a story documenting increased search and rescue calls. The story followed one search and rescue organization in Wyoming that has seen a deluge of calls during the global pandemic.

No such increase was seen in Spokane County, according to the county’s search and rescue coordinator.

“Although Spokane County did see an uptick in outdoor activity, we were fortunate and saw no increase in SAR requests,” said deputy Thad Schultz, the search and rescue coordinator in an email.

Schultz said the county search and rescue team responded to two calls attributed to outdoor activities in 2020 and two in 2021.

“It’s safe to say we are staying consistent,” he said. “And we have noticed no increase for calls for service.”

Kootenai County’s volunteer search and rescue program did not respond to requests for comment.

Spokane and Kootenai counties’ search and rescue programs are run through the county sheriff departments and rely on volunteers, as do most of America’s search and rescue organizations.

The majority of America’s search and rescue operations do not charge for their services. According to Idaho statute, search and rescue costs can be charged only if the person rescued “knowingly enters into any area that has been closed to the public by competent authority for any reason.

Washington also does not charge for search and rescue costs.

At least six states, including Oregon, can bill for search and rescue operations if they deem the person rescued was acting negligently.

National Parks and other federal land managers for the most part also don’t charge for search and rescue costs.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.