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Old 15-06-2015, 19:09   #16
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Re: Cost of SAR

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Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
I agree the operators probably aren't placing value on human life. However, I can guarantee the political forces that drive massive SAR budgets are more complicated than the warm fuzzies. I can also guarantee, at least some (probably most) take their over time pretty seriously. Other wise they'd just buy their own boats, join the auxiliary, and do it pro bono while working a more stable better paid job.

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Where do you people get these ideas from?


USCG personnel do not get paid overtime, period. They're paid a fixed monthly salary based on paygrade, E-1 through E-9, or O-1 through O-5 or whatever.

No overtime, even if they work around the clock for 2 days.
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Old 15-06-2015, 19:14   #17
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Re: Cost of SAR

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I agree. Compared to waste and fraud, and bank bailout money, SAR money is a drop in the bucket.
Agreed.

Even if there was 1 month when they did no rescues at all, they would still expend their quarterly budget with drug interdictions, coastal reconnaissance, stopping illegals, maintenance, etc. They wouldn't waste a penny, there is always something that they can spend it on, even if it's a new desk or more PFDs.
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Old 15-06-2015, 19:17   #18
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Re: Cost of SAR

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I can't speak about inland SAR operations, but USCG SAR operations are currently at an all time low. The total number of operations have gone down substantially over the last 50 years. The peak in rescue operations stands at 77,000 in 1978, and has been steadily declining since then and stands at 17,000 for 2013.

To the extent that there is an impression people are seeking increased rescues for stupidity I don't believe that the statistics back up that claim. In fact I think the opposite. Modern communication means a rescue organization needs to spend less time looking for someone, and good radio communication means many previous rescue calls can be sorted out long before assets are deployed.

Sure these operations cost the tax payers, and I guess an argument can be made that if you put yourself at risk the tax payers shouldn't carry that bill. But frankly I would deplore living in a country that refuses to spend money to help a citizen in trouble. As much as stupid people piss me off, the answer is better education, not refusing to help.

USCG SAR operation statistics http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg534/SAR...ts%2064-13.pdf
I'm surprised, but glad to hear that rescues have been steadily declining!
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Old 15-06-2015, 21:52   #19
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Re: Cost of SAR

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Well, I agree with your sentiment, but most SARs are going to cost a lot more than $10,000. When I was flying with the Coast Guard, I was told that when you figured in acquisition costs, maintenance costs, aircrew training, aircrew salary and fuel costs, it cost about $12,000 an hour to run a JayHawk (basically a souped up Blackhawk). ----
The only question I always have about that kind of statement is -
Using the same figures, how much does it cost per hour to NOT run it?
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Old 16-06-2015, 05:23   #20
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Re: Cost of SAR

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The only question I always have about that kind of statement is -
Using the same figures, how much does it cost per hour to NOT run it?
Well, you have a point. It you never cranked the things up, they would still have some costs associated with them. I imagine the way they come up with those hourly costs is just to add up all of the costs of purchasing, maintaining, and operating one over it's lifetime, divided by the number of hours it actually flew.

You could do the same thing for your car pretty easily, too if you just kept records.

But, we also flew with the army, using their Blackhawks, and the Coast Guard maintainnece schedule was so much more severe than the Army's that the Coast Guard was getting 4 and 5 times the hours out of their birds. (One of the real eye openers for us all, was watching the Army guys do about 30 minutes of after flight maintenance on their H60's and then watching the Coast Guard guys do 2 or 3 hours of post flight maintenance on theirs.). The Coast Guard takes care of their stuff.

But, I don't begrudge spending money on SAR just because a small percentage of people actually need the service. A small percentage of people actually need police or fire service, too.

And, having worked TDY with the Coast Guard, I don't know anybody, anywhere, who gets more bang from the buck than them. I left after my short time with them, deciding that they were the most professional outfit I had ever been associated with. And, when Katrina occurred, their actions there (and their speed in getting to work while everyone else was still sitting on their hands trying to figure out what to do) only enhanced their reputation with me.
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Old 16-06-2015, 08:37   #21
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Re: Cost of SAR

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Well, you have a point. It you never cranked the things up, they would still have some costs associated with them. I imagine the way they come up with those hourly costs is just to add up all of the costs of purchasing, maintaining, and operating one over it's lifetime, divided by the number of hours it actually flew.

You could do the same thing for your car pretty easily, too if you just kept records.

But, we also flew with the army, using their Blackhawks, and the Coast Guard maintainnece schedule was so much more severe than the Army's that the Coast Guard was getting 4 and 5 times the hours out of their birds. (One of the real eye openers for us all, was watching the Army guys do about 30 minutes of after flight maintenance on their H60's and then watching the Coast Guard guys do 2 or 3 hours of post flight maintenance on theirs.). The Coast Guard takes care of their stuff.

But, I don't begrudge spending money on SAR just because a small percentage of people actually need the service. A small percentage of people actually need police or fire service, too.

And, having worked TDY with the Coast Guard, I don't know anybody, anywhere, who gets more bang from the buck than them. I left after my short time with them, deciding that they were the most professional outfit I had ever been associated with. And, when Katrina occurred, their actions there (and their speed in getting to work while everyone else was still sitting on their hands trying to figure out what to do) only enhanced their reputation with me.
Very well said!

I would like to differentiate fire service because there is a growing trend to double charge us for that service, at least here in CA.

My property taxes pay for the county general fund which in turn funds the hourly wages for firefighters, who get paid for their shifts, whether they're waxing the truck or sleeping or fighting a fire. So their wages are already paid, even if there are no fires the entire year.

Over the last decade or so, they've been charging people the full cost of operations for emergency medical services and negligently set fires. If they come to your house, treat someone for a panic attack and leave - you're going to get a bill for almost $3,000. If they transport someone to the hospital, the bill comes to about $12,000. A neighbor's kid burned a couple of acres of an empty field nearby, and his parents received a bill for about $55,000.

I could possibly see a few hundred dollars charged for a couple of scorched hoses, or more wax to clean the fire truck, but $55,000 looks like the entire payroll for everyone who responded to the fire, and I'm positive that was already paid for with property tax money.

I'm thinking we get a LOT better deal with the USCG.
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Old 16-06-2015, 09:51   #22
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Re: Cost of SAR

It may not be relevant but I will chime in. In my younger days I was a member of Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue and then a similar group on the east coast. We were the main SAR group in Idaho and did some work on the east coast. We were self funded from our own equipment to time off work and family to conduct searches and training that was never ending.
We never charged nor even thought of it as the thinking was people would not call or report overdue people until it was too late.

Now as a sailor I am not into SAR as it can get really scary out there and I have had my share of adrelin moments and don't need any more. But if there were a charge would folks pull the pin or wait until it is too late. I don't have an answer but I know past thinking was that you can not put a value on a life. Maybe some of you can but I can't.

By the way we are sailing the Med into and out of Tunisia. We have been to Lampadusa and when we left the Italian CG asked us to watch for migrants and call them if we see anything. The Admiral asked what we would do if we came across a group and no help was available quickly? Would we take them on board, launch dink, ignore, what?? I could not answer her question and glad I never had to.
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Old 16-06-2015, 11:28   #23
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Re: Cost of SAR

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Originally Posted by Group9 View Post
-----the Coast Guard maintainnece schedule was so much more severe than the Army's that the Coast Guard was getting 4 and 5 times the hours out of their birds. (One of the real eye openers for us all, was watching the Army guys do about 30 minutes of after flight maintenance on their H60's and then watching the Coast Guard guys do 2 or 3 hours of post flight maintenance on theirs.). The Coast Guard takes care of their stuff.
-----
Group9 you've just scared the hell out of a bunch of army guys who have to ride in choppers lol.
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Old 16-06-2015, 12:26   #24
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Re: Cost of SAR

Not too many years ago I was Brigade Aviation Maintenance officer a couple of times, we were funded $3,500 an hour for AH-64A helicopters per flt hour, and $5,000 an hour for the "D" model, (Longbow).
Way that works is say a unit has a 3500 flying hour program, then their total operating budget for the year is 3,500 times 3,500
I can tell you from first hand experience that you can fly Blackhawks for a fraction of what an Apache cost. I had three of them in my units and was responsible for them as well, but their costs were so low in comparison, I don't remember what it was.
Now this was almost 20 yrs ago dollars, but $12,000 per hour for a Blackhawk? Have to include a lot of other costs in to get to that number I believe.

There is a lot of truth in that to hold aircraft currency that they would be flying anyway, and the best training, is actually doing your job, so while the cost is substantial, you'll never be able to figure out how much "extra" a rescue costs.

Remember a few years ago an Air Force Commander was relieved for having a C5A Galaxy flown to Maine to pick up lobsters for a unit party? Press had a field day about that, wasted bunches of money, but truth is the crews had to fly the time anyway for training, why not pick up lobsters?
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Old 16-06-2015, 12:36   #25
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Re: Cost of SAR

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
USCG personnel are paid a monthly salary, like all military personnel. They can work 30 days straight, 18 hrs per day and will not get 1 dime in overtime.

Their monthly salaries are a fixed cost, whether they are rescuing someone, watching TV in the lounge, or on leave.
You guys are both right!!

Saving lives makes economic sense BOTH because of FamilyVan's reasons -- the value of human life in purely selfish, objective, terms, exceeds the cost of saving them

AND

There is basically no marginal cost of saving lives. The costs are all fixed. So any given rescue increases the fixed cost by goose eggs -- zilch -- it's free to society, given that we decide to pay the cost of having the capability and keeping it in a ready state. In fact the cost is even less than zero, because rescuing some idiot trying to make the Guinness Book by being the first ever to row across the Atlantic in a Hefty bag provides valuable training for SAR guys who would otherwise be getting their salaries for watching TV in the ready room.
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Old 16-06-2015, 14:08   #26
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Re: Cost of SAR

I'm sure the CG is a lot like any other branch of the military, especially the Navy. They drill and train and pray for something real to do. Nothing gets your heart pumping and makes you feel like you're really doing something like hearing "This is not a drill!!" over the loudspeaker.

An Admiral was in a small business jet with his pilot near the coast of the Philippines when they had to ditch it. I was a guest on board a destroyer at the time, and they secured artillery practice (blowing the hell out of a secluded beach with a spotter) and hustled on over to the crash site. When they wound up the turbines, you could feel it accelerate like a car, and 2 helicopters from another ship came in from the stern for refueling. Normally, they'd land, shut down, and refuel. Since this was an emergency, they slowed to just over 20 kts, each helo took up position just outboard a refueling station, discharged static, then refueled in the air, while flying right next to a ship at 20 kts! They finished off at the same time, and both took off while we kicked it back up to flank. Once we arrived at the scene, they had swimmers in the water already, but we launched a small boat and divers immediately.

They took a complete inventory of the plane (in shallow water) and determined the 2 must have been picked up by someone, no liferaft deployed, a green dye pack was deployed, but was still not dispersed very far.

Later on, we received word that a local fisherman had seen the plane go down and putted over to them, picking them up within minutes of their crash. He had a small boat, no radio or phone, so they hung out on his boat, helping him fish for the day until he caught his share and brought them back to his small fishing village, where they finally called in that they were safe.

To see how rapidly and professionally everyone performed, much faster than during drills, made me very proud that day. Of course, we wrote all of it up as monthly training exercises.
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Old 16-06-2015, 14:42   #27
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Re: Cost of SAR

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
I'm sure the CG is a lot like any other branch of the military, especially the Navy. They drill and train and pray for something real to do. Nothing gets your heart pumping and makes you feel like you're really doing something like hearing "This is not a drill!!" over the loudspeaker.

An Admiral was in a small business jet with his pilot near the coast of the Philippines when they had to ditch it. I was a guest on board a destroyer at the time, and they secured artillery practice (blowing the hell out of a secluded beach with a spotter) and hustled on over to the crash site. When they wound up the turbines, you could feel it accelerate like a car, and 2 helicopters from another ship came in from the stern for refueling. Normally, they'd land, shut down, and refuel. Since this was an emergency, they slowed to just over 20 kts, each helo took up position just outboard a refueling station, discharged static, then refueled in the air, while flying right next to a ship at 20 kts! They finished off at the same time, and both took off while we kicked it back up to flank. Once we arrived at the scene, they had swimmers in the water already, but we launched a small boat and divers immediately.

They took a complete inventory of the plane (in shallow water) and determined the 2 must have been picked up by someone, no liferaft deployed, a green dye pack was deployed, but was still not dispersed very far.

Later on, we received word that a local fisherman had seen the plane go down and putted over to them, picking them up within minutes of their crash. He had a small boat, no radio or phone, so they hung out on his boat, helping him fish for the day until he caught his share and brought them back to his small fishing village, where they finally called in that they were safe.

To see how rapidly and professionally everyone performed, much faster than during drills, made me very proud that day. Of course, we wrote all of it up as monthly training exercises.
What a great story, and well told!
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Old 16-06-2015, 14:55   #28
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Re: Cost of SAR

Does the US have the equivalent of the RNLI / RCM-SAR that the UK and Canada does? Or is it all professional coastguard?
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Old 17-06-2015, 07:49   #29
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Re: Cost of SAR

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Not too many years ago I was Brigade Aviation Maintenance officer a couple of times, we were funded $3,500 an hour for AH-64A helicopters per flt hour, and $5,000 an hour for the "D" model, (Longbow).
Way that works is say a unit has a 3500 flying hour program, then their total operating budget for the year is 3,500 times 3,500
I can tell you from first hand experience that you can fly Blackhawks for a fraction of what an Apache cost. I had three of them in my units and was responsible for them as well, but their costs were so low in comparison, I don't remember what it was.
Now this was almost 20 yrs ago dollars, but $12,000 per hour for a Blackhawk? Have to include a lot of other costs in to get to that number I believe.



There is a lot of truth in that to hold aircraft currency that they would be flying anyway, and the best training, is actually doing your job, so while the cost is substantial, you'll never be able to figure out how much "extra" a rescue costs.

Remember a few years ago an Air Force Commander was relieved for having a C5A Galaxy flown to Maine to pick up lobsters for a unit party? Press had a field day about that, wasted bunches of money, but truth is the crews had to fly the time anyway for training, why not pick up lobsters?
We used to make six hour runs in the H60's to Gitmo for groceries, once a week, because that was the only transportation we had.

But, the worst I heard of was the costs of some Sikorsky S-76s that my agency got from the Army several years ago. We knew we were in for it, when they delivered them to us and we found out that SOFD-D had been the ones who were giving them up to us because they couldn't afford to run them with their budget (which was substantial, to say the least). The crew chiefs and pilots who delivered them told us we would be sorry we took them. They were right. They broke our aviation budget in less than a year.

There is a reason that the only people you see operating a lot of helicopters are the government, oil companies, and billionaires.
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