Outdoor responsibilities

Updated: 2011-10-14 07:56

(China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, the booming middle class of China has begun venturing into the great outdoors. But their blind faith in their equipment cannot make up for their lack of experience in activities such as mountain climbing and hiking.

The adventure industry in China is far from mature now and is poorly supervised. Most of the expeditions are organized on a volunteer basis via the Internet and who should pay the cost of saving those who get into trouble has become a controversial topic after one local authority spent 100,000 yuan ($15,600) saving 14 hikers who had been missing for 13 days in Sichuan province.

What annoyed the public was the hikers' casual apology for the trouble they had caused after they were rescued on Oct 12. It turns out they enjoyed their 13-day experience and took photos along the way as if nothing had happened. Yet more than 300 people were involved in the search and rescue efforts with many more waiting anxiously for the hikers' safe return.

The authorities are obliged to try and save people's lives when necessary. But adventurers are different, because they are seeking such dangers as a thrill.

They believe they are capable of overcoming any difficulties they may encounter. However, nature is much more complicated and fickle than their imagination.

Both the adventurers and the authorities must behave sensibly.

The authorities should firstly classify their territory into different categories according to different natural conditions. In dangerous places, the authority needs to draw up detailed rules supervising and regulating outdoor activities.

The professional sports authorities need to carry out a strict certification process to check the qualifications of all people applying to take part in dangerous activities.

All adventure activities should be reported to the relevant authorities so they can check the qualifications and equipment of participants and approve the activity.

As long as the adventurers get the final nod, then the authorities have the responsibility to take whatever action is necessary to save them should the need arise.

Such an approval process may take a long time but many potential accidents will be avoided.

Moreover, professional commercial rescue service providers and volunteer rescue organizations should be encouraged as important partners with the State-owned rescue authorities.

A developed market of rescue service providers is an important part of a mature outdoor exercise industry, and will help reduce the burden on the public budget.

While people can enjoy the countryside they must do so responsibly and not put the lives of others at risk.

One young policeman died on Huangshan Mountain of Anhui province while looking for 18 lost students from Fudan University of Shanghai last December. The students' skin-deep gratitude aroused much debate online.

This time the related departments should learn the lesson in earnest.

(China Daily 10/14/2011 page8)