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