‘Don’t rescue us, we might not be able to afford it!’

Published: September 8, 2015

Over the years there have been a number of calls for people who become lost or stranded in the bush or in the water, to be forced to foot the bill for their own rescue … but police insist that the safety of the individual should always be paramount.

The statement follows the case of three fishermen who spent Sunday night on the water after the motor on their 4.5m recreational vessel failed to start at Bynoe Harbour in the Northern Territory. Although the men discharged four rocket flares throughout the night, they chose not to activate their EPIRB because they were concerned they would incur the cost of the search and rescue.

Instead the men rowed the vessel throughout the day and night, arriving back at camp 21 hours overdue. Other than being exhausted the men were in good health.

Senior Sergeant Paul Faustmann said it was important to carry the right safety equipment when out on the water and, in this instance the men did meet the minimum requirements.

“If you are in a distress situation where there is a direct imminent risk to you and your crew and you have exhausted all other efforts of self-rescue then activate your EPIRB, and this will allow emergency services to locate and assist you.” he said. “The safety of you and your crew is paramount and you will not incur the cost of a search and rescue if you do need help.”

A couple of weeks ago a man who wandered off in search of Eliot Falls in Cape York was rescued after an extensive three day search. The cost of his rescue was estimated at $800,000.

  • Is it wrong that people are potentially putting their lives at risk by not summoning help because they are worried they might be charged for their rescue? Comment below.
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6 years ago

If you choose to place yourself at risk, then you should pay if you cannot extricate yourself from a situation unaided. Its all about taking responsibility for your actions. Want to do something hazardous for the adrenaline it brings? Well be prepared for the consequences in terms of cost if you mess up!

6 years ago
Reply to  Errol

So pleased they have made it out safely. What an ignorant comment Errol! It is great to see people out and enjoying themselves instead of being afraid of living life to the full by worrying about what hazards might befall them. I guess your lounge room must be your safe haven. These fishermen would not have set out to deliberately breakdown so I don’t believe they should pay. Any one of us that has ‘a life’ could be placed in the same situation and it is wonderful to know assistance is available. Good on rescue services.

John Christopher
6 years ago
Reply to  Errol

Although that reaction is understandable, Errol, I couldn’t disagree more. We live in a country where slimy driving across tha Nullarbor can become a life and death situation if the right sequence of unfortunate events occur. Any amount of planning cannot take into account the unexpected, and as a society, we should provide free assistance, gratis, under those circumstances. Unfortunately, this will also have to cater for the stupid or criminally negligent, but you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. You may have a lazy eight hundred grand handy, but I certainly don’t.

Bob McKerrow
6 years ago

This is the dilemma of being Australian. If you endanger yourself overseas and need help. you pay. In Australia if you endanger yourself, we all pay. One of the downsides of living in a Nanny state. Can annoy you sometimes until the rubber hits the road and then you appreciate what we have.

6 years ago

Two points.
1. Re search and rescue. The rescue is relatively cheap if you can be located by GPS or smoke signal if you like. If you are reported missing it can be very expensive looking for you.
2. We all pay emergency services levy, which is a form of insurance, so why should not we make a claim on it when something unplanned happens.


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