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Old 10-11-2014, 21:27   #1
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Cost of SAR

There has been some minor concern about people getting upset about the cost of search and rescue. Here's the answer to that....

The Straight Dope: Why should taxpayers pick up the tab when some daredevil gets in trouble?
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Old 10-11-2014, 21:53   #2
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Re: Cost of SAR

The Coast Guard is totally funded out of the US treasury. They have an annual budget that pays for them to stay in business. SAR is part of that budget. They budget X dollars for it. If the budgeted amount isn't used up in actual SAR operations, they will burn it up in training or just sitting around. The problem comes when a lot more people start firing off their Epirbs than the budget allows for. Then the CG higher ups either have to rob money from other programs like drug interdiction or go back to Congress for an emergency appropriation. As long as they don't have too many rescues there is no additional cost over and above their 'stand by' expenses. Not to say that just the cost of buying, maintaining, and crewing the various CG assets is cheap. It's just the cost of having the 'stand by' capability if they are ever needed. Actually a fairly cheap cost compared to airport fire fighters who may live through an entire career without making an actual rescue or put out an aircraft fire.

My issue is with people needlessly calling for rescue when they feel a little discomforted or sail off into the sunset totally unprepared. Rescues are dangerous for the aircrews and rescue swimmers. When you declare an emergency, you are putting the rescue crews lives in jeopardy. They don't get paid like Wall Street Bankers but mostly do it because they want to help their fellow men.
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Old 12-11-2014, 12:27   #3
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Re: Cost of SAR

Unfortunately, one of the justifications for SAR is that the average person is considered to have inherent untapped value to the economy. If you are lost at sea, then the economy loses the contribution you would have made. So 4 young people in there 20's. BA's? Let's assume they're worth $10 000 000 to the future economy? Few SAR operations will cost that. And as far as the boys risking their lives, yes, it is worth considering, but often times they count on the over time from those calls to buy Christmas presents.

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Old 12-11-2014, 13:13   #4
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Re: Cost of SAR

I don't know anyone who considers that a justification. The SAR operators I know do it to save lives period. Without trying to assign a value to the person who may be dying.
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Old 12-11-2014, 13:33   #5
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Re: Cost of SAR

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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Old 12-11-2014, 13:44   #6
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Re: Cost of SAR

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Originally Posted by Seymore View Post
There has been some minor concern about people getting upset about the cost of search and rescue. Here's the answer to that....

The Straight Dope: Why should taxpayers pick up the tab when some daredevil gets in trouble?
Ahh, the brains vs the balls

" you won’t begrudge a 1.2-cent contribution towards helping those with less brains than you but more balls."

We could help a lot with just a few more cents per day per person.

OOPs - politics.
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Old 16-11-2014, 12:26   #7
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Re: Cost of SAR

I read the attached article by Cecil justifying daredevils rescued by government service at 1.2 cents per year. A typical brainless response by an entitled American who believes the government has an endless superfund to pay for ego maniacal stuntsters who are also entitled to do whatever they please at the taxpayer's expense. Perhaps Cecil didn't know that the US government has a nearly 18 trillion dollar national debt that is growing daily and sacrificing the economic stability of our government and the ultimate welfare of our people. It is people like the vacuum enhanced Cecil who threaten the very existence of our country and can justify this expense when there are those without health insurance, decent living conditions or basic needs in life. Personal responsibility? Are you kidding? Just pick up your Sat phone and call for help. It's only 1.2 cents per year! Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 16-11-2014, 12:37   #8
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Re: Cost of SAR

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Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
Unfortunately, one of the justifications for SAR is that the average person is considered to have inherent untapped value to the economy. If you are lost at sea, then the economy loses the contribution you would have made. So 4 young people in there 20's. BA's? Let's assume they're worth $10 000 000 to the future economy? Few SAR operations will cost that. And as far as the boys risking their lives, yes, it is worth considering, but often times they count on the over time from those calls to buy Christmas presents.

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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).

I doubt that figure is off by much, because I was told a figure of $6000 an hour to run our Bell LongRangers (a much smaller helicopter) by a similar calculation.
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Old 16-11-2014, 14:22   #9
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Re: Cost of SAR

This is such a sticky topic I've been staying out of it as I do not wish to see it turn into a political thread, which seems to almost always happen whenever the discussion regards taxpayer dollars.

Anyway, IMHO these discussions are based on the premiss that any savings in the budget of whatever country is doing the searching and rescuing would be passed back to the taxpayer, which doesn't ever seem to happen.

If this energy and focus was spent on actively searching and recovering federal dollars lost through fraud I think we would get a much better return on our efforts so if the government is happy with not prosecuting bank and financial fraud when tax dollars are involved, for example, going after the poor soul who made errors in judgement or was just a victim of bad luck desn't make much sense to me either economically or morally.
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Old 17-11-2014, 08:04   #10
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Re: Cost of SAR

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This is such a sticky topic I've been staying out of it as I do not wish to see it turn into a political thread, which seems to almost always happen whenever the discussion regards taxpayer dollars.

Anyway, IMHO these discussions are based on the premiss that any savings in the budget of whatever country is doing the searching and rescuing would be passed back to the taxpayer, which doesn't ever seem to happen.

If this energy and focus was spent on actively searching and recovering federal dollars lost through fraud I think we would get a much better return on our efforts so if the government is happy with not prosecuting bank and financial fraud when tax dollars are involved, for example, going after the poor soul who made errors in judgement or was just a victim of bad luck desn't make much sense to me either economically or morally.
I agree. Compared to waste and fraud, and bank bailout money, SAR money is a drop in the bucket.
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Old 17-11-2014, 10:22   #11
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Re: Cost of SAR

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
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Old 17-11-2014, 12:32   #12
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Re: Cost of SAR

"As much as stupid people piss me off, the answer is better education, not refusing to help. " Stumble

Stumble,
I was fly fishing the Pere Marquette River in Michigan for the Fall steelhead run and after leaving the river late in the afternoon, I stopped at a small convenience store/bar for some liquid refreshment. There was a small section that sold tourist gifts and souvenirs and in the corner was a plaque with a picture of a black and white pig painted on a red background. The plaque read:

Never try to teach a pig to sing.
It is a waste of time . . .
And annoys the pig.

That plaque has hung in my office for over 25 years. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 15-06-2015, 14:13   #13
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Re: Cost of SAR

US Americans always say things like "United we stand" or "One nation under god" but when reading bulls**t like this I have to conclude that's nothing but hypocrisy.

As far as I know the bible, god wants us to be there for people in need, even share what we got. A "united nation" suggests the same. B**ching about ridiculously little money to save lifes proves otherwise.
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Old 15-06-2015, 18:50   #14
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Re: Cost of SAR

Welcome to cruisers forum.
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Old 15-06-2015, 19:04   #15
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Re: Cost of SAR

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Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
Unfortunately, one of the justifications for SAR is that the average person is considered to have inherent untapped value to the economy. If you are lost at sea, then the economy loses the contribution you would have made. So 4 young people in there 20's. BA's? Let's assume they're worth $10 000 000 to the future economy? Few SAR operations will cost that. And as far as the boys risking their lives, yes, it is worth considering, but often times they count on the over time from those calls to buy Christmas presents.

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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.
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