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Derek M. Walls Weighs in on Search and Rescue Expenses for Victims

March 11, 2013 - NEW YORK, NY

As an experienced search and rescue volunteer and leader, Derek M. Walls is one individual who realizes the value behind these life-saving resources. He notes that these teams employ strategic action to rescue individuals who may have become lost or incurred injury while out in the wilderness. However, despite the risk that outdoor enthusiasts accept when venturing outdoors, many are arguing against local fees that are charged when search and rescue services are required. For Derek M. Walls, there are two sides to the argument that require a closer look before all states take up action to charge hefty fees for essential services.

According to a recent article from The Chicago Tribune, Oregon, Maine and Idaho are the only states that currently authorize "local agencies to bill for rescues when factors such as recklessness, illegal activity or false information led to the predicament." However, these states are not the only ones considering the need for search and rescue fees, as lawmakers across the country are noted to periodically present legislation in favor of charging for these services.

For example, Wyoming Republican Representative Keith Gingery recently tried, yet failed, to enact a law that aligned with his statement, "In the rare case where a person took unnecessary risks, that person should be sent a bill." Lawmakers in New Hampshire have also joined the fight, "seeking to shore up search and rescue funds by establishing fees ranging from $350 to $1,000."

While some may believe charges are a necessity to keep search and rescue teams available, the article explains that some may look to these fees as reasons not to seek help. The article notes the objection of "national search and rescue groups, who say the prospect of payment could prompt people to delay seeking needed aid, possibly making a dangerous situation worse."

Derek M. Walls, an experienced search and rescue volunteer sees both sides of the argument, and notes one particular distinction that lawmakers should consider when positioning new laws that encourage fees. "Volunteering with the Florida Volunteer Search & Rescue Corps for the last 16 years, I can understand the opinion on both sides. If a person puts themselves in a situation that could cause huge expense to local government, then I do feel that they should have to pay for the rescue operations. However, I disagree with charges for a local 'Volunteer' SAR Team to come out and assist. Volunteer is the key word and it carries the expectation that all of the volunteers are donating their time to assist and are not expecting compensation," Derek M. Walls concludes.


Derek M. Walls founded SAR Corps in 1997 after serving in the national Search and Rescue Response Force. Feeling that he positively impacted the families who learned of missing loved ones and needed his help recovering them, Derek M. Walls wanted to pass this tradition along to others. Wanting to instill this same love of community service in the local youth, he created SAR Corps so that children could learn age-appropriate Search and Rescue and military techniques. Today, the efforts of Derek M. Walls have made a considerable difference and reached significant expansion, as all training for the camp is held at this 10-acre sports complex on Merritt Island.


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