So, I spent about 5 minutes doing the most basic of searches using DuckDuckGo (my preferred general search tool). I easily came up with a whole database of USCG Accident Statistics
(a fascinating tool), and more broader stats from COSPAS-SARSAT:
From the global stats you can see a general rise in alerts that COSPAS-SARSAT assisted with, although a rather stable level of alerts where COSPAS-SARSAT was the only responder. I can't interpret this without further analysis, but on the surface this could support James' top-level assertion.
I'm not looking to write an article on all this (although perhaps I should
). If I was then I would take the time to do the analysis. But my very cursory search suggests the data IS available.
I guess my real point is it kinda drives me nuts when unsupported assertions are made about things when data is available, and can actually answer the question. We don't have to guess, to rely on our small anecdotal experiences, or to rely on our gut. For these kinds of question, the answers are available if we take the time to look.