Hikers: Don't Forget To Call

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The article on the front page, "Large scale search effort sent out for hiker not lost," is by turns funny and frustrating.

First we have the image of a man, 72-year-old Richard Lindfors, pulling into his driveway oblivious to the dust he kicked up in the wake of a garbled cell phone call.

Meanwhile, miles away in the southern part of Arizona, we see his daughter standing amongst 200 search and rescue workers. She is calm, but in her mind she believes that her father is dead.

Because of a simple miscommunication, members of the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Fort Huachuca Army Base, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the National Park Service and U.S. Customs all responded to search for this man.

The cost of a search of this kind will run in the thousands of dollars for taxpayers.

Search and rescue volunteers aren't paid, but fuel, food and general operating expenses can add up.

Though many search and rescue team members are volunteers, most of the people on this mission were paid employees and many were probably paid overtime for their effort.

There is also the added cost of the Black Hawk helicopter sent out by Border Patrol and the unmanned aircraft from the Army base.

There is a moral dilemma for anyone involved in search and rescue efforts. In the state of Arizona, people are rarely charged for their own rescue. The thinking being that if lost hikers believe they will have to pay, they may not call for help until it is too late.

But the costs are still real and in a case like Lindfors' could be avoided with better communication.

Lindfors told the Roundup that he plans to put a specific plan in place with his family for future solo hikes.

The season is upon us where many will be venturing into the outdoors -- to camp, to wander, to seek solace.

Outdoorsmen are, by their nature, independent. They don't like reporting to anyone. They go to the wilds to be alone, to experience life without the ringing phone, without the questions, without the noise.

But your solace can be your loved ones' worry.

Like Lindfors, avid outdoorsmen should put together a pre-set plan with friends and family.

First, let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. Set a plan for the appropriate response if you are not back by that set time.

Once you have told someone where you are going, go there.

And most importantly, as we learned from Lindfors' story, call your friends and family upon your return to let them know you are safe.

Putting yourself on this leash might chafe, but it will save your family the worry, it will save the taxpayers money and it could save your life.

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