Friday, February 27, 2009

Death on the mountain, the blame game

The photo was taken from the Greyhound bus on the Trans Canada highway close to Rogers pass.

We live surrounded by wilderness.
It is magnificent but untamed and potentially dangerous. The pioneers knew that. They had to work hard to wrest a few modcons from the land around them. If they went into the mountains they did so with the full understanding that the place might bite back.

But these days wilderness is seen as a place to refresh the spirit by city dwellers. Wilderness attracts people with a yen for adventure. Sometimes they actually get it. Surprise!

Every time something goes wrong there is a lot of handwringing and blame seeking, and whinging about more safety measures "so that this won't ever happen again".

It has been a bad season this year. Tragedy struck a small town when 8 local snowmobilers died in an avalanche. It was all over the news for days. This week we had another tragedy: a couple from Quebec on a winter vacation in B.C. skied out of bounds, got lost, and the wife died of exposure before the husband was finally rescued after 9 grueling days.

Of course it is a tragic event and one does feel for the family.
BUT!! The media has been beating the blame drums endlessly. The RCMP should have gone out right away, the search and rescue people didn't do enough, and so on.
What they don't stress enough is that this couple made their own misfortune.

Rule 1 if you want to play in the great outdoors: Let someone know where you are going!
This hapless couple did not. No one went looking for them, because no one was missing them.
They were not staying at the resort where they went skiing. They had checked out of their independent hotel. They may have strayed out of bounds accidentally. Every resort warns skiers about the dangers of going out of bounds. Yet every winter some folks figure the rules don't apply to them, and duck under the rope.

HALLO! Earth to thrill seekers! Be careful what you go looking for, you might find it!
I am really tired of the way the media is playing the blame game.

We need to place a big part of the responsibility where it belongs: with people who flirt with danger, and then expect a flawless rescue system if they actually get it.
It is time to get some sort of insurance scheme to cover these rescues.

No comments: