Shoot up them gang members. No wait.. Avalanches!

David Gluzman January 13th, 2009

There’s been a fair bit of news lately on gang members shooting out Calgary. Coincidentally there’s a fair bit of news on avalanches and the cost of rescue.

A father and son have been asked to pay $2,500 for triggering a dangerous search and rescue after they snowboarded out of bounds at Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain ski area last weekend (January 2008). – CBC

Like many others, I am completely fed up with all the gang violence happening in this city. It’s completely out of control, and it’s not uncommon to hear about a shooting on a weekly basis (if not daily). When did Calgary become such a haven for crime? I had recently heard on the CBC (radio) that Calgary has more violence (currently) than any other state in America. Think about that.. Los Angeles, Detroit, New York.. Wack.

One person was killed and two were wounded when gunfire erupted between two moving vehicles along a street in southeast Calgary on Tuesday afternoon. -CBC

Avalanches. Dangerous. Like gang members? No, especially since it’s recreational, and risky to be out in the mountains to begin with. Then again, it’s a pastime for many Canadians to enjoy what this great country has to offer. Granted, there are some people out there that push the levels of what is considered safe; such as choosing to go outside when the avalanche rating is extreme.

There are approximately 150 avalanche fatalities reported every year by the 17 countries that are members of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR). In the past 30 years, from 1978 to 2007, an average of 11 avalanche fatalities have occurred per year in Canada. This has increased to an average of 14 avalanche fatalities per year in the ten year period, from 1998 to 2007. – Avalanche.ca

People that explore the backcountry should be educated and know the risk they are taking before heading out; and granted I think most people that head out are to some capacity.


Controlled blasting of a mountain near Banff

Then again, these kids that decide to break through closed areas in resorts are in a way breaking the law (if not the laws of the ski hill). Should they fork the bill for having broke a law? Absolutely. Should people enjoying the great outdoors that have misfortunes that occur in nature foot the billl? I don’t think so.

Where is the line of who we should or should not fork the bill for? How about people who smoke, or people that are fat, or drink beyond excess? We might not be sending out a helicopter to their house to pick them up, but we sure spend a considerable amount of money keeping these people alive. One day in a hospital in Canada would run you around $5000. 24 hour nursing care, surgeons, physicians, physio and occupational therapists, along with a tonne of other people who are involved in caring for someone is probably a larger expense than anyone in this country realizes.

Here’s an idea. Charge anyone who commits a criminal act for their hospital time, rather than charging Canadian taxpayers who go out and enjoy life.

  • Interesting… I don’t disagree with the concept of charging people who committed a crime for their hospital bills, but given that if they go to jail they end up costing society big time dollars then I don’t really see it as feasible.

    On the other hand, I think if you go out for a recreational ski and need to be rescued you should pay for the rescue. You can argue getting fat or drinking are also problems people should pay for but those are much less open and shut. Being obese can be genetic or due to mental illness (same with drinking) and thus not 100% voluntary but the skiing example is just easier to show. Remember we pay for ambulance services (or even getting checked out by ambulances) so why not pay for a mountain rescue?

    I don’t think skiing in an off limits area of a ski hill is breaking a “law”, perhaps a violation of the terms and conditions of said ski hill but at most that would get you kicked out of the hill and not charged with anything. So I guess I see where you are coming from but if someone’s choice of sport (not just skiing, anything) necessitates a helicopter rescue, then yes, they should pay. I know a guy played beer league hockey, went into the boards wrong, shattered his knee. He had to pay for the ambulance ride, not the hospital stay, but if someone gets trapped on a mountain then they should pay for the rescue but not the treatment thereafter.

    And I don’t believe the CBC’s comment on violence in Calgary at all. Complete bs. Detroit had 344 murders in 2008, with a population of about 917,000. So almost a murder a day with a population less than Calgary. CBC Radio is the worst of the CBC empire, completely unaccountable.

  • As an example of the CBC’s horrendous reporting here is the lead story on cbc.ca this morning:

    “Extreme cold grips much of Canada” “It could feel like between –30 to –50 with the wind chill in a frigid swath stretching from Saskatchewan to Quebec” and then “The only respite from the chill was in the Maritimes and B.C”

    Forgot that one province there that you love to hate CBC? What was it? Oh I almost have it. In between BC and Saskatchewan….. shaped like a square with the edge cut off one side… You know? The place where it is going to be +10 tomorrow? Oh well, it’ll come to me later. Oh and there are some territories too around, but whatever.

  • Stir the pot here:

    Since we know if people smoke, maybe they should pay for ALL their medical, cause they choose to smoke and it’s quite easy to prove if they do or do not. Man, taxpayers would save a LOT of money.

  • Don’t disagree with that, but the problem is then taking to the nth degree. If smoking then drinking, if drinking then caffeine, if caffeine then maybe fried foods.

    Eventually you’ll end up with a system where you pay for all of your own health care and taxpayers pay none. Now where is there a system like that?

    Not saying that system works at all. I think the skiing rescue/ambulance ride analogy is closer. We pay for the method of getting to our free health care, whether it is private car or ambulance. Why should a helicopter rescue be different?

    STARS – http://www.stars.ca – Great charity by the way, I have volunteered before with them – is essentially that. A free service provided to Albertans to airlift you to hospital at no cost, because it is a charity and not subsidized by taxpayers. Perhaps a charity should be created for Alberta/BC mountain rescues, but the tax payer shouldn’t have to foot the bill.

  • There ya go.. Capitalistic volunteerism. That should fix it. :)

  • Actually it appears STARS does something like this already from their website: STARS is one link in the Chain of Survival. Our partners in that chain include:

    Local EMS
    Dispatch centres
    Fire and police services
    Search and rescue organizations
    Emergency medical teams

    The STARS Chain of Survival Program was established to assist emergency partners in the community with their equipment and training needs.

    Since 1999, 633 organizations have received more than $3.5 million in funding.

    So there you go, only need to take it a bit further to ensure mountain rescues are covered.

  • dloo

    If only there was a mutually beneficial solution. Avalanches are dangerous. Gangs are dangerous. Gangs are using gun violence. Guns cause avalanches…..

    On a more serious note – personal responsibility makes sense, but an avalanche is an emergency situation. If the medic / rescue personnel had the option of footing the bill or placing it squarely on the shoulders of the rescued, it may encourage people to be a lot more cautious. I like it.