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State Bill Reclassifies SAR Personnel

January 23, 2013 Jackson Hole, State of Wyoming, Teton County No Comments

A bill that would protect search and rescue team members from personal litigation has passed the Wyoming house on two readings and today is to see its third and final reading before being passed on to the Senate.  Teton County Representative Ruth Ann Petroff explains that not including search and rescue personnel from public employee immunity which includes others like firefighters was actually an oversight.  She says the reclassification is really an important addition which Representative Keith Gingery found lacking in the statutes, and the measure is really important to the ability to recruit people to SAR teams and their subsequent protection.  Petroff says the second part of the bill was cut.  It would have enabled counties to charge for rescues it deemed had resulted from negligence on the parts of those being rescued.   Petroff says that decision was made out of fear that such a provision might discourage someone from seeking help until it was too late or until danger to them and the rescuers had increased.  Petroff says the lawmakers from around the state are well aware of the work done by various search and rescue groups and are committed to making the correction.  The bill partially comes in reaction to a lawsuit filed against members of the Teton County Search and Rescue Team after an unsuccessful mission near Grand Targhee Ski Resort two years ago.

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