Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Rescue Radio

Ham radio has once again proven its value in emergencies, with three different stories this month of rescues coordinated via amateur radio. All three come courtesy of the ARRL Letter. 

In mid-June, Alden Jones, KC1JWR, was hiking with a group on the Long Trail near his home in Vermont when he suffered a medical issue and lost consciousness. Fortunately, an EMT with Appalachian Mountain Rescue was nearby, but could not get a cell phone signal to call for help. Jones regained consciousness and was able to use his 2-meter handheld to get help via a nearby repeater. It took eight hours to get Jones off the mountain and to a hospital, due to its remote location. He reportedly made use of the time to talk up ham radio to the EMT, other rescuers and the helicopter crew that finally flew him to safety!
In May, Richard Tashner, N2EO, suffered a medical emergency in his Massapequa, New York, home. He couldn't get to his phone but he could reach his DMR handheld, on which he put out a call for help. His call was answered by Maxis Johnston, GM0MRJ, in Scotland, who immediately put out a call for "anyone in the States." He was answered by Ken Dix, KB2KBD, in Delaware, who contacted emergency services on Long Island and got help on its way, via a dispatcher who was amazed at the route the call took.

Finally, on June 25, the Maritime Mobile Service Net helped arrange a tow for a disabled sailing vessel off the coast of Florida. Skipper Ian Cummings, KB4SG, turned to the 20-meter net for help because he was too far offshore to be heard on his VHF marine radio. The boat was drifting toward a shallow area where it would have been in danger of running aground. Net members were able to connect Cummings with a marine tow service. The Pacific Seafarers' Net, which operates on 14.300 MHz after the MMSN secures for the night, kept in contact with Cummings until his boat was safely back in port.