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National Park Quiz 37: Search and Rescue

Be careful out there! Don't find yourself in search of a rescue. National Park Service photo by Leo Larson.

Being lost in the wilderness is a fearful thing, even worse if you’re injured and wondering if anyone is looking for you. Each year, hundreds of people go missing or are injured in America's national parks. Test your knowledge of search and rescue (SAR) facts and trivia with this quiz.

1. True or false? Although the crash site of Steve Fossett's plane was in the Inyo National Forest, search-and-rescue authorities closed access to Devils Postpile National Monument during the initial recovery operation.

2. True or false? If you get lost in a national park and a SAR mission is launched to find you, you'll be billed for SAR-related costs.

3. True or false? The majority of SAR missions launched in the parks during 2007 were concluded within 24 hours.

4. In what became the largest, most complicated caving rescue operation in the U.S. since Floyd Collins became fatally trapped in a cave near Mammoth Cave National Park, Emily Davis Mobley was rescued after a 1991 caving accident in ______ broke both of her legs.
A. Mammoth Cave National Park
B. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
C. Wind Cave National Park
D. Sequoia National Park

5. About ______ percent of the SAR missions launched in America's national parks during 2007 were conducted in behalf of National Park Service employees.
A. two
B. four
C. six
D. twelve

6. True or false?  Most of the SAR missions launched in national parks are necessitated because people have used bad judgment in risky situations.

7. True or false?  The most expedient and successful searches are those that flood a search area with as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

8. During 2007, National Park Service SAR missions cost the agency
A. $1 million- $2.99 million
B. $3 million-$5.99 million
C. $6 million-$8.99 million
D. $9 million or more

9. The first use of air-supplied divers during a SAR mission in a national park was at
A. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
B. Channel Islands National Park
C. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
D. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

10. True or false?  Cliffhanger, the 1993 action-adventure movie starring Sylvester Stallone and Janine Turner of Northern Exposure fame, was inspired by a national park SAR operation.

Bonus question:

11. When SAR victims are "short-hauled," they are
A. carried piggyback by rangers to safety
B. given a short ride to safety in a helicopter
C. dangled below a helicopter for a short distance en route to safety
D. carried up a steep slope on a litter

Double bonus question:

12. True or false?  At least one National Park Service SAR mission received assistance from Jeane Dixon, a 1960s-70s era psychic.


1. True. Authorities were concerned that curiosity seekers would head into the High Sierra backcountry to the crash site from a trailhead in Devils Postpile National Monument.

2. False. The National Park Service is the only Federal land-management agency actually charged with finding those in need. That said, if you become a SAR target because of irresponsible or careless behavior, the National Park Service could try to recover damages from you.

3. True. Nearly 98 percent of 2007 SAR missions in the parks were concluded within 24 hours.

4. b -- Emily, a member of the Lechuguilla Cave Project, was trapped roughly 1,000 feet underground. Successfully removing her took the combined efforts of 173 people working with 9,000 feet of rope over a period of 91 hours.

5. c -- To put a finer point on it, 6.27% of the SAR missions launched in the national parks last year were conducted for the purpose of assisting or retrieving National Park Service employees.

6. False. Less than one-fourth (22%) of the SAR missions launched in the national parks during 2007 were necessitated because of bad judgment. The rest of the SAR situations could be traced to poor physical condition or fatigue (22%) and other factors.

7. False. SAR experts say that having too many searchers can actually hinder a search, such as when too much activity in an area obscures important clues.

8. b -- The agency spent $4.7 million on searches in 2007.

9. c -- Air-supplied divers were first used in a national park SAR mission on April 9, 1939, during an unsuccessful search for a Las Vegas youth who drowned at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

10. True. The movie was inspired by a December 1976 SAR mission in Yosemite National Park that involved a downed plane packed with marijuana.

11. c -- A short-haul typically involves a rescuer who is lowered on a cable from a hovering helicopter to the victim below. After the victim is secured in a harness or stokes basket (if injured), the helicopter then lifts both to safety a short distance away.

12. True. During the unsuccessful June 1969 search for a seven year old boy in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the psychic relayed to park officials her thoughts of where they might find the boy.

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