As of January 1, 2017, the cash-strapped King County Sheriff will no longer send its search and rescue helicopter on missions outside the county. And the chopper may be grounded altogether in 2018. Pragmatic cost savings or dangerous cut?
“What’s scary is that with more people out on trail these days, the need for search and rescue is likely to go up, not down. If I’m a hiker waiting in the dark, injured and cold, this is going to impact me directly.”
—Kindra Ramos, director of communications and outreach, Washington Trails Association
“We’re continuing to monitor the situation. Making sure that Pierce County is taken care of is something that’s near and dear to our hearts. But at this point, we just don’t have any more information.”
—Sarah Foster, public information officer, Pierce County Department of Emergency Management
“There are other search and rescue helicopters available from the Air Force. But it would take longer for them to respond—and that’s if they’re available. So, clearly, this could make a situation that’s serious in the field more serious.”
—Mark Stewart, communications consultant, Washington Emergency Management Division