Mountain rescues tax firefighters and cost taxpayers

PHOENIX - After seven rescues of hikers in two days the efforts to save lives is taxing rescue crews and costing tax payers.

Arizona does not charge for rescues. The money mostly comes from the Governor's Emergency Fund.

It's a $4 million annual fund of which $200,000 goes to emergencies like mountain rescues.

We checked our records and found that there were 125 rescues in 2008, 160 in 2009, and 152 in 2010.

The average cost hovers around $7,500.

That cost can go up by several hundred dollars if a helicopter is used.

This doesn't mean that the rescued hiker will get off scot free. They are often charged for the helicopter, ambulance and medical bills.

Fire fighters have always said they don't want a situation where victims are charged for rescues because it might lead to them worrying more about money than their safety, which could lead to bigger problems.

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