...We have more tools and technology than ever before which should enable us to make better informed decisions, exercise better judgement, and be more self-reliant, yet more and more people are setting off under dubious conditions and simply punching the "rescue button" without making any serious attempt at self-rescue. "Stop the ride, I want to get off!"...
I agree with the need to act responsibly and not put our SAR people in unnecessary danger.
But while it's tempting to think that technology is emboldening people to take more and more dubious risks, US DOT data show quite clearly
that this is not true. From 1985-2010, the number of cases declined by as much as 75% in all metrics: SAR cases, sorties, lives lost, etc.
I think that there's a natural tendency for people to think that "I use this new technology wisely, but that other clown over there probably abuses it." The data overwhelmingly show that the number of accidents has shown a steady decline, and I suspect that the availability of better technology and safety awareness play a role in this improvement.
I also think that the proliferation of videos via YouTube and shows like Coast Guard Alaska create the impression that these incidents are on the increase because we see a lot more of them. However, the statistics seem to show that this is a false impression created by the greater availability of videos and related information, rather than an increase in the actual incidents. This greater availability is a good thing, because we can learn from it and adjust our behavior accordingly. But don't go thinking that there are more rescues occurring just because there are more videos available.