Duncan Howat (long time owner/operator Mt. Baker Ski Area)
So having done over 200 search and nearly all rescues, in the most nasty conditions you can imagine, dark, blizzards, avalanche conditions, deep deep snow, We've gotten fairly hard core, especially on out of bounds-back country stuff, which is what I consider paddling the bay or any where in storm conditions. Whats really created a strong focus on risk or dumb thinking is instigating a $500.00 min charge whenever we go out, and usually it goes more to a $1000.-$2000 amount. Charging has not stopped people requesting our help, because the alternative is probably death. Yes I know everyone pays taxes etc etc, but you don't get a free ambulance ride nor should the boat ride by the Coast Guard be free also. After all these years, we've got a incredible drone-(DSI-210 AC) dual operator, cystral sky screens, here's the best part, a $14,000 heat seeking camera. Will pick up a person a long long distance away. It'll fly in 45mph gusts, and constant 30 mph winds. It's a big unit but easy to launch from a boat. Not sure why all search outfits don't have them, other than it takes some consistent training and a part 07 FAA license. Would find someone so fast that's in the water with that heat camera. On another note, a strongly worded educational sign at Launch sites, talking about the process of rescue not just about cold water immersion would go a long way to making most people safer, but not all. In sat's deal, going straight to the CG by radio was done to avoid 911dispatch, which can be a cluster at times.