New UT program eliminates search & rescue bill

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) This week, Utah Search and Rescue Assistance Card debuted, designed to give you and your family peace of mind while enjoying the back country while also supporting search and rescue teams. 

Grand County has the highest rescue rate in the state, conducting nearly 160 annually. People who find themselves in a tight spot near Moab can expect two things: a rescue and a bill. 

“You could be anywhere from $500 to $2,000 on a quick one. A multi-day drowning or a multi-day search, you’re up into the tens of thousands of dollars,” Grand County Sheriff Steve White said.

The vast number of searches strained the county’s small budget, forcing the sheriff’s office to pass the bill onto the rescued person. 

However, a new piece of safety gear has your back in the back country. The Utah Search and Rescue Assistance Card eliminates the liability to repay non-medical costs.

“You want people who are the very best to be trained and anxious to know they will at least be compensated for the expenses. A lot of people take their horses, snow mobiles, 4 Wheelers, motorcycles to go find these guys. It’s important to support these people,” Sen. David Hinkins said, (R) Dist. 27,  who introduced the bill that created the program. 

The card is available to Utahns and visitors, costing $25 a year for individuals and $35 for families.

The money will be put in the state’s search and rescue reimbursement fund, supporting critical search and rescue services needed in the back country.

“There are so many times when you see the equipment and think, we really need this, but we can’t fund it,” Sheriff White said.

The cost will not be reimbursed if the sheriff finds gross negligence caused the rescue. 

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