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Rescues: Who pays?

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Jim Thompson

By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

Last week, the attempted rescue of four playboys and a youth in a private sub off the wreckage of the Titanic pushed most other things – even Donald Trump – out of the headlines. We sucked in information with great interest; the news pundits and their experts weighed in.  

I may have missed it, but I didn’t hear anyone questioning the expense of the rescue nor ask who is paying the bill.  

My wild guess – based on the description of the assets deployed (the military always likes to use the word “assets”) – is that it was well north of $10 million, maybe $20 million. That much money can feed a lot of hungry people.

Those of you in rural communities may laugh, but those of us who live in the city or suburbs actually pay to ride a horse. When you arrive at one of these rental stables, the first encounter, before they even start to give you instructions on riding the horse, is a sheaf of legalese, some as long as 10 or 12 pages – no joke.  

These are broken into small paragraphs of a sentence or two each and have a place beside each one to initial indicating your understanding and approval of the condition described.  

I’ll sum it up for you: You are agreeing that you are riding this horse at your own risk and cost of error. Further, they often say, if you do anything that harms the horse, you will pay for its treatment or loss. 

I would advise you, should you decide to go to one of these rental stables, to take your lawyer along. A contentious divorce takes less verbiage.

We were at dinner with friends one evening last week when all this was going on. One member of our party was complaining about what I described in the first paragraph. However, she admitted that her sister-in-law had been rescued from a snowstorm in a western national park. Further, she saw a difference in terms of wealth. You know what I think of national parks to start with.  

Another friend, a lawyer, commented to her that “she was on a slippery slope” when she expressed the opinion that she did – criticizing the cost of the rescue based on the perceived wealth of the individuals involved.

I couldn’t agree more. For many people, the luxury of going to a national park would leave their opinion of the woman in the snowbank at the same place as the divers in the tin can. 

And that is where I am, with one differentiator. In your own home, you should expect fire and rescue services, for you pay for these local services through your taxes.

But if you are playing on a lake, climbing a mountain, descending into a canyon, or observing a coral formation, you should be on your own, unless you have purchased insurance to cover your rescue.

I do have insurance to pull my family or I out of a foreign country, should some illness or accident befall us there. In the industry, it is often called “extraction insurance.” Its purpose is to get you back home to your own medical care rapidly. It gives me peace of mind and is only a few hundred dollars per year.

As far as adventures go, even including swimming in a lake, expect to cover your rescue yourself.  

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at


Matthew (not verified)

26 June 2023

I have sinned. About 15 years ago, I paid to go horseback riding at Yellowstone National Park. I don't really remember the size or volumes of forms I may have signed; I was just thankful one of those stupid equestrian helmets wasn't offered or required to wear. Until recently, I have never thought about what happens if a foreign visitor has a medical emergency while visiting another Country. Progressives say other countries' healthcare systems are free and effective...

Mario Angellio (not verified)

27 June 2023

The Commiefornia Senate voted to pay $300 weekly checks to 18 million illegal aliens.
Rescue expenses are a drop in the bucket, send the rescue bills to Commiefornia.

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