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Should Rescue Services be government funded?

Here in Britain we have Fire, Police & Medical emergency services that are all paid for by taxes (funded by government funds).
However, Mountain Rescue teams, Lifeboat crews & even Air Ambulances (helicopters) are funded privately by charity donations which I think is terrible.
These people save countless lives & play every bit as important a part as the other services, but get no funding (the mountain rescue teams AND Lifeboat crews are even totally voluntary and therefore unpaid !!).
Totally wrong, in my mind!
I agree, they should be funded from public money.
They do a job just like the other emergency services that are funded this way.
Some services are already provided 'off the back' of other services. Take the Air/Sea Rescue helicopters, for example. RAF and RN. Official purpose - rescue of downed pilots and seamen lost at sea. Peacetime purpose - search for, and rescue of, civilians who have got (sometimes literally) out of their depth. So - these services are already publicly funded.

Others are voluntary. St John, for example, provides first aid services at public events. The members are voluntary. Provision of those members to a particular event is paid for by the event organisers. St John also provides aero-med transfer of incoming/outgoing casualties between airports and their homes. This is paid for either by the casualty or by the casualty's insurance company. In addition St John ambulance crews can be used as a back-up to the professional ambulance services when they're either on strike or overstretched due to a major emergency. In these cases St John would usually handle the less serious problems such as planned transfers (possibly including getting recovering patients home or to more distant hospitals to release hospital beds for victims of the emergency) - this takes some of the strain off the official service allowing them to focus on the emergency. In these circumstances (IIRC) funding is provided by the government as and when the service is used.

Mountain Rescue and the RNLI are voluntary at a personal level and, I think, that is the way it should be. I dread to think of the consequences if the real reason any of these people did what they do was 'the money'. They are there because they are wholeheartedly dedicated to what they do - and they take a very real interest in doing it properly. If they were paid some would be there for the money and that, frankly, is the wrong incentive. Funding at an 'organisation' level is currently through charitable donation. For mountain rescue I think that is the correct way. Why should someone with no interest in mountaineering pay to have some pillock who took an unreasonable risk brought down from the hills? Perhaps mountaineers and hill-walkers should have mandatory insurance. That would just open up the floodgates to massive and unreasonable premiums, though - like mandatory car insurance.

The RNLI is a different matter. Government funding should be provided to protect our sailors as everybody benefits from their activities. Again, though, what about some idiot who drifts out to sea on an air-bed? Hit the pillock in the pocket if he survives his ordeal. Perhaps he'll learn his lesson and take more care the next time.
Perhaps some charities should be government funded, but to be honest with you they do better through private funding than they would through government funding. You only need to look at the state of the NHS to see that the government is barely competent enough to manage the basics.

But the second the state takes control private funding ceases. Not a good idea then.
Yes, as soon as the government takes over no one will willingly give money to these organisations and they will be totally in the hands of the politicians. How man ytimes have you donated money to a government organisation?
Wait - we don't have publicly-funded Emergency services?

I think they really should. Sure, the world we live in is somewhat a dog-eat-dog world, but when it comes to emergencies, public safety, and health, it should really be a joint effort by everyone - hence publicly-funded Emergency services. I think that includes health care, which is why the U.S. sucks in that regard.
I agree with GSIS earlier, the best people in the sea saving you are the people who absolutely love it and want to be there for that passion not the money.

I was a beach lifeguard for two years, and it was an amazing time, being on the water for a purpose, giving something back from a lifetime of summers building a relationship with the ocean.
OK it sounds cheesy, but the truth is that everyone on the beach rescue teams, loved the sea and spent their childhoods understanding it. Add their technical surf rescue training, from the youth club sections to adulthood, then these really are the best people to be on duty watching the water.

Fund the actual surf rescue clubs, maybe the full-time training and admin staff, but the people on patrol each day don't need to be paid more than expenses. There's a pool of amazing individuals out there who love the sea and will do the job for that love alone.

I'd rather be rescued by someone who's got a lifetime of surf/sea experience and a passion for it, not a guy who did a six month course just to get the x per year salary.

...exploitative? maybe, but I was happy to be exploited when I was though Smile
Yeah, I'm all for public funding of all rescue teams etc. Even if it means higher taxes.
I agree that all emergency rescue services should be publicly funded except for those who don't listen to warnings issued about danger like mountain hikers that venture out against warnings???
We have some publicly funded Search and rescue services, but if you need the service, you are responsible for the bill.
I think that's appropriate. If someone goes hiking and needs to be rescued because they didn't bring proper gear or (as happened recently) needs to be rescued on a kayaking trip because they went out in bad weather conditions without a life jacket - the public shouldn't be responsible for that.
Even with public funding in place, individuals may be presented with a bill for ambulance services, or fire supression services in many circumstances.
We are already seeing our health care / community services achieve poorer and poorer standards f care, and we are struggling to fund them. I don't think the public should be responsible for stupidity.
That said, accidents do happen, and there ought to be discretion. The public should be happy to pay for services that help people who face unexpected and unavoidable circumstances.
From me, and emphatic (and no doubt unpopular) no.
In fact, the fire and emergency medical services should move to private funding as well. (Though police, perhaps, should stay under government control, to prevent corruption.)
All the emergency services (except, as stated earlier, the police) should work basically on the same system you would use to get a tow truck if your car broke down (but using a government agency to dispatch them)
You call the emergency number (911 in the USA, but in the UK: ?), the person who answers finds out about your emergency, and then finds out the closest unit (say, an ambulance) that you need. The person then asks you if this particular ambulance company is acceptable (this supplements the governmental controls in preventing shoddy ambulance services). When you agree to that particular company, the operator contacts that unit by radio, and they come get you, and take you to the hospital.
Worried about the cost to the injured? Health insurance companies would love to try to make more money by advertising that they cover such things.

Why change it? Private companies are nearly always more efficient than the government, especially when they have competition.
It doesn't make sense to not publicly fund fire service. Hey, there's a fire. It's going to burn the entire neighborhood down. That's a matter of public safety. Why should the good sumeritan who turns it in have to pay the entire fee? That's bull. They are protecting everyone. Charge everyone.

As far as emergency medical, that is supposed to be privately funded, IMO. If I call an ambulance for a broken finger, I should have to pay for the ride to the hospital--it was irresponsible to call an ambulance in that case.

I am not really familiar with other rescue services, so I can't really comment on them.

While we're voicing unpopular opinions....
I don't entirely disagree with you. Entirely.
In theory, it sounds like a good idea. Here we have public healthcare even, and all that means is government legislated substandard healthcare... A little competition sounds healthy.
However, my experience in our country hasn't been encouraging. here, competition doesn't seem to matter. Apparently, we just can't compete.
So, while I long for superior, free market style service, I am not optimistic that it would actually happen in my neighbourhood. Competetion is a good thing, but it only raises the quality of service if sombody actually steps up to the plate and competes!
So regulation seems pretty much necessary around here - particularly in life saving industries, at least until the rest of our economy/environment changes...
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