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Search and Rescue Beacons (PLB's), CORSAR Cards, and Backpacking Insurance?
#1
Ok,

My roommate is a pretty active hiker, and when you hike in the wilderness it's only inevitable that someday an accident is going to happen. I am pretty active too, he's gotten me into hiking pretty regularly and we're looking for some financial protection in the event something goes wrong.

We're definitely buying the CORSAR Cards. Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue Card. It's $12 for 5 years. That's just a no-brainer.

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/DOLA-Main/CBON/1251592090523

It covers expenses of helicopter, vehicles, airplanes, fuel, etc if you get stuck somewhere and have to be pulled off a mountain, or out of a canyon.

The catch is, if you have a medical emergency and have to be medi-vac'd out, it doesn't cover those expenses.

But if you're hiking somewhere and a wildfire breaks out, and you need rescued, it covers that. If you get stuck on a ledge and can't get down, it covers someone coming to save your tail. Or if you get caught in avalanche, rock slide, boulder slide, any number of things that can go wrong up there.


So, to cover the medical part, we're looking at some backpacking insurance options, but not really sure where to look. I ran one quote it was like $912 a year...N00b that's as much as car insurance, but I'm not sure if that's right...might have been for world travel or something.

Anyone have links to Colorado backpacking insurance designed to cover medical expenses in the event you get hurt? I don't have medical insurance through a job or anything.


Also, we're looking into SAR Beacons (Search and Rescue Beacons). That way if we're at 13,000 feet and we have a problem, we hit the beacon and SAR comes and gets us and knows right where to find us.

I've seen a few on REI but I don't know much about what I'm looking at, or what to get.

http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/personal-locator-beacons.html

Anyone have any experience?
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#2
Tons. The personal SAR beacons (Personal Locator Beacons) are an offshoot of the new 406 MHz technology aviation Emergency Locator Beacons.

Almost all of them are good, they meet a pretty high standard. You want one with a built in GPS. They have the ability (once they acquire a GPS signal) to embed your exact location in the alert beacon via data transmissions, and the 406 MHz signal is received by satellites and eventually makes its way to Langley AFB where they start the process of notifying SAR resources in the area.

Don't mistake the avalanche beacons for PLBs, please. Some guy did that a few years ago and it was an on-again, off-again hunt for his non-GPS equipped beacon in Summit County. :) :) :)

Things to look for are easy to access controls (with gloves on, perhaps) but that aren't easily activated by accident in a backpack, etc. And whatever battery tech you like. (A dead beacon won't do you or your party any good.). Some early models had gimmicky antennas that would pull out of the units and were hard to put back in, etc.

Once you buy one, make sure to register it. You wouldn't believe how many of these are found running at the owner's home when the kids find them, or whatever.

Good call on the COSAR card if you do much in the backcountry. I haven't looked in a long time, but they used to be tied to fishing and hunting licenses or available with those at a reduced cost instead of buying them by themselves, if you're doing any of those activities.

Without giving away any info that's supposed to be sent through a press person, I'll just say that my alert pager has been getting a workout since last night, and a similar device may be involved as I type this. ;) People do mobilize. Keep in mind however, that the majority of searches that last more than a few hours means night falls, and it gets cold even out on the plains. Hypothermia injuries and deaths are the number one problem for even survivors. That GPS nailing down right where you are can mean the difference between a very cold night, and a ride home.

A friend watched a lady get bowled over by a rock about one foot around on a very populated and popular hiking trail on a 14er a few years ago. The extraction which started about 5 minutes later after she was medically assessed by not just one, but two hiking Docs, still took 5 hours by the clock. And it started to rain in the middle of it. Weather can bring stuff to a halt or significantly slow activity to keep searchers safe, if no one knows where you are.

What else do you need to know?
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#3
Awesome. Thanks for the info. As far as the PLB's go, I think we're set on one.

either this one
http://www.rei.com/product/815753/acr-electronics-resqlink-406-gps-personal-locator-beacon

or this one
http://www.rei.com/product/843146/acr-electronics-resqlink-406-gps-personal-locator-beacon


Since I'm a veteran, I get healthcare through the V.A. system so medical coverage is covered, but it doesn't cover ambulance/helicopter rides to the hospital unless the V.A. dispatches their ambulance. I now have my CORSAR card, I'm just looking into some type of insurance in the case I need to be medi-vac'd off a mountain, and that will pickup the cost. So far, this is the only thing I have been able to find.

GEOS Alliance Medivac Insurance
http://www.geosalliance.com/medivacplus/index.html

pricing looks pretty reasonable. about $100 for a year for an individual...that's only $9 a month. If it's ever needed it will pay it's weight in gold a hundred thousand times over.
https://www.geosalliance.net/geoslogin/medivacorder.aspx?refid=N


they also have SAR Insurance but with the COSAR CARD my SAR costs are covered, so no sense in paying for insurance I don't need.
http://www.geosalliance.com/sar/index.html

you know of any other links to similar type med-evac insurance?
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#4
Honestly I don't know what the ambulance ride down costs after you've been yanked out. Interesting question.

No clue on the insurance for such. Sorry no help there.

Obviously you're talking about an injury event.

Just a quick Google seems to indicate that if VA accepts your claim for a non-VA hospital visit to make you medically stable (that's all they'll pay then you have to be transported to a VA facility, of course...), then the ambulance ride is also covered from point of accident to the facility.

http://www.tampa.va.gov/patients/emergency-care.asp

But that website says "Tampa" so heck if I know.
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#5
I wouldn't trust anything published on a V.A. website to save my life lol.

But yes, I am thinking of an injury event. Notice the keywords "IF the V.A. accepts your claim". If you're out hiking, they're not gonna accept your claim at all. That's neither service connected or related. They will treat you for your injuries and incur the cost, but they won't pay for the SAR extraction, or the ambulance or helicopter ride to the hospital. That's why I'm looking into the GEOS Alliance Medivac Insurance. That will pay to extract me off a mountain or from a canyon, take care of my medical issues until they get me to the hospital.

I imagine an ambulance ride from a trailhead to the nearest hospital would be mighty expensive, at least $2000 if not more. A helicopter ride would be in the neighborhood of around $25,000+ Not a bill I care to be left hanging with because I could never pay it. That's why I'm covering my bases with the CORSAR card, which gets me out of a pickle in the event I get caught somewhere I can't get out of, but am unhurt.

The GEOS Alliance Medivac Insurance covers life-flight to the hospital and medical costs at the scene and on the trip to the hospital. The V.A. would then cover the rest. Unlikely for it to happen or even have a need for such services, as I am not a technical climber, but accidents still do happen, and even a casual hiker can trip and fall and break a leg or arm and needed SAR/Medical help.

I'm just trying to prepare for the unexpected, because the first time it happens, $102.40 a year, will pay itself off 100 times over.
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#6
(07-07-2013, 11:41 AM)Audrey Wrote: I'm just trying to prepare for the unexpected, because the first time it happens, $102.40 a year, will pay itself off 100 times over.

Where are you getting your costs for the evac from?

I'd want to chat with some folks and see what they really cost. Agreed that $100/yr is peanuts but they're making money at that price and probably not that many people buying it... So just thoughts.

I could ask some folks on various SAR crews and COSAR board type folks if they've ever charged anyone for anything and how it works. I suspect that the fishing/hunting license thing just pays for the State to do some reimbursement at specific rates to some groups.

I'd say your expense is an ambulance ride from a trailhead to the VA that needs to be covered and people have refused those and gone in POVs before. Unless you need trauma care Enroute, or treatment for shock and/or hypothermia, one could always refuse if one were conscious.

Dunno. Now you have me curious. I'll ask but a lot of these folks will probably just say, "I dunno... I just go find them." :)

Could always ask the nice kids with the spiffy helicopters from Ft. Cartoon to simply continue the flight to the helipad at the hospital... Instead of bothering with the stop at the trailhead. Heh heh.

Kidding, but those guys will fly anywhere... :)
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#7
(07-07-2013, 11:39 PM)DenverPilot Wrote: Where are you getting your costs for the evac from?


A few google searches turned this up

http://www.ls1gto.com/forums/showthread.php?t=395954

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/85584502.html


This stuff is outrageously priced, but helicopters are expensive birds that need fuel, pilot's and maintenance crews and repairs and parts.


All hikers should be contemplating this. For $102 a year it's just stupid not to.


(07-07-2013, 11:39 PM)DenverPilot Wrote: I'd want to chat with some folks and see what they really cost. Agreed that $100/yr is peanuts but they're making money at that price and probably not that many people buying it... So just thoughts.

I could ask some folks on various SAR crews and COSAR board type folks if they've ever charged anyone for anything and how it works. I suspect that the fishing/hunting license thing just pays for the State to do some reimbursement at specific rates to some groups.

I'd say your expense is an ambulance ride from a trailhead to the VA that needs to be covered and people have refused those and gone in POVs before. Unless you need trauma care Enroute, or treatment for shock and/or hypothermia, one could always refuse if one were conscious.

Dunno. Now you have me curious. I'll ask but a lot of these folks will probably just say, "I dunno... I just go find them." :)

Could always ask the nice kids with the spiffy helicopters from Ft. Cartoon to simply continue the flight to the helipad at the hospital... Instead of bothering with the stop at the trailhead. Heh heh.

Kidding, but those guys will fly anywhere... :)

Well, the thing that got me thinking about medevac insurance was this language right here in the CORSAR website

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/DOLA-Main/CBON/1251592090523

Quote:The CORSAR Card Is Not Insurance

The card is not insurance and does not reimburse individuals nor does it pay for medical transport. Medical transport includes helicopter flights or ground ambulance. If aircraft are used as a search vehicle, those costs are reimbursed by the fund. If the aircraft becomes a medical transport due to a medical emergency, the medical portion of the transport is not covered.
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