High cost of back country rescues
The cost of rescuing someone in the mountain parks is high, but priceless if you are the one being rescued.
So far this year, Alberta Parks has used a helicopter for over 30 rescues.
RCMP and rescuers say hikers could drastically reduce the cost if they take precautions before they head out.
The Larsen family, from Edmonton, is looking to head out on a hike in Kananaskis. They're aware of the many mountain rescues this season here and the cost associated with them.
"I think the individuals should be responsible, to a certain extent," says Perry Larsen. "They should take more precautions, be more prepared, have maps, trail maps, and the proper gear with them."
RCMP say a recent three day mountain search garnered a helicopter bill of $13,000.
Officers know mishaps will happen. They hope hikers would carry handheld GPS emergency beacons which would reduce the amount of time rescues take.
"If they purchase one of these devices then it can shorten the search time and save costs," says Patrick Webb of the RCMP. "More importantly, it can help them get back to somewhere they can be helped."
John Oullette is a sales representative for the Spot device and he uses one every time he ventures into the back country.
If you're in trouble and activate the device, it sends a signal via satellite to Texas where it's than dispatched locally. The whole process takes minutes.
"It's amazing technology," says Oulette. "It's piece of mind, not only for yourself, but for your family members."
"I send three messages a day when I'm on a serious back country trip. My wife feels a lot better about that and she can see where I am and my progress."
"It's amazing new technology."
Almost a decade ago, Parks Canada looked at charging commercial guides for rescues but dropped the idea after a short time. It says a small portion of its park pass fees pays for mountain rescues.
‘We have a very strong prevention program that tries to educate visitors," says Bill Hunt of Parks Canada. "In the winter we have avalanche forecasting, and all the education messages to try and prevent people from getting in those situations where they need a rescue."
Public safety specialists say that even if you don't have a satellite device like this, you still need to take precautions to make sure you're safe in the event of an emergency.
It is advised that hikers bring extra clothes, water and food even if you're going out just for a day hike.
A Spot GPS unit costs about $169 and the activation fee is $100 a year.