Saturday, July 07, 2012

Death of a Public Employee

Nick Hall left Mount Rainier for the last time on Thursday.  Unlike his final ascent, when he went up by helicopter as part of a National Park Service team to rescue four trapped climbers on 21 June, Mr. Hall made his final descent in a body bag.  He fell to his death during that difficult rescue.  And while all of the climbers made it off the mountain safely due to the skill of Mr. Hall, his fellow rangers and a helicopter crew from Joint Base Lewis McChord, adverse weather delayed his own recovery for two weeks.

The many tributes to Mr. Hall emphasized his enthusiasm and dedication to the work he did, all quite appropriate.  Also appropriate is to remember that Nick Hall was a public employee.  And while Mr. Hall's work and untimely death are not the run-of-the-mill bureaucratic jobs, it is right and proper to remind ourselves that his ability to rescue people would not be possible without the organization that supported him.

It is also right and proper to remember that Mount Rainier National Park is a public institution, accessible to all for a modest fee.  For that modest fee, a visitor has access to park facilities and organized activities.  For an additional $43 a visitor can climb to Rainier's summit and, if necessary, someone like Nick Hall will risk his or her life to rescue that visitor if necessary.

It's a good deal for all of us.  It was a good deal for Nick Hall until it cost him his life.  Serving us.

Godspeed, Mr. Hall.

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