Man uses ham radio to rescue woman
(c) KSL.com March 19th,
2009 Story by KSL Producer/Reporter Paul McHardy
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permission from KSL .com
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Here is a more
account of the rescue also from KSL.com:
On March 14, 2008, while travelling in the back country in Arizona,
north of the Grand Canyon (Poverty Mountain area), Hal Whiting (amateur
radio operator-KI2U) and his sons Jarod and Danny from St. George and
Todd Kluxdal and his father Donald of Mesquite were stopped by another
driver coming in the opposite direction.
The driver asked if they had a satellite cell phone as there was no
cell service in this region. Hal told him no but that he had a ham
radio and asked if he had an emergency. The driver said there had been
an ATV accident a couple of miles ahead in a remote area and that they
needed a helicopter to airlift the woman out.
Hal put out an emergency call over the radio using the 146.91
(Seegmiller Mtn) repeater and after three calls, another ham operator
(Ralph Magee "Mac"-N6LRG) over 50 miles away in the Cane Beds responded
and took the call. Basic information was provided to Mac who was doing
a phone call with the 911 dispatcher.
More specific information was needed as to the location of the patient
so communication was temporarily paused while Hal and Todd drove down
to the accident site to get GPS coordinates. Returning to the top of
the ridge, communication was reestablished with Mac and the GPS
coordinates and conditions of the road into the accident given.
Emergency services were responding including a Mohave County sheriff
deputy from Beaver Dam and a Kingman Ranger's helicopter from Kingman.
Hal remained at the top of the ridge and Todd and his father Donald
went back down to the accident site with a handheld GMRS radio and were
able to provide additional patient injury status information which Hal
relayed by ham radio to Mac.
The patient was airlifted by helicopter to Las Vegas and initial
reports indicate was doing well.
As an amusing end to it...I [Hal] met with the deputy after all was
over and he told me that the helicopter crew reported my GPS
coordinates were off. They said I missed the patient location by twenty
feet. So, I feel pretty good about the equipment.
The following is courtesy of the The ARRL
Letter (March 20, 2009 Edition) by the American Radio Relay League:
Hams Assist Woman
Injured in Desert
<<< LISTEN TO THIS STORY AS AN MP3
AUDIO FILE READING OF THE ENTIRE MARCH 20, 2009 ARRL LETTER: CLICK HERE 2,436,968KB
It was a sunny day, not a cloud in the sky, when Hal
Todd Kluxdal, Kluxdal's father and Whiting's two sons decided to go out
to the Poverty Mountain area in Arizona to search for airplane crash
sites. Whiting, who lives in St George, Utah, and Kluxdal, who
lives in Mesquite, Nevada, took two vehicles that day. According to
Whiting, they always take two vehicles, just in case a problem pops up:
"We always have two spare tires, extra gasoline and a tow rope. We take
enough food and supplies to stay two or three days." In addition to the
extra equipment, Whiting took the one thing he never goes without --
his ham radio.
"It was a bit after lunch, about 73 miles into our trip," Whiting told
when we were flagged down by a man wanting to know if we had
a satellite phone, since he couldn't get coverage on his cell
phone." Whiting didn't have a satellite phone, but he asked the
man if this was an emergency. Whiting said that the man told him that
one of his friends had been injured when her ATV rolled on top of her.
"I told him I could call for help on my ham radio," he said. The
injured woman was knocked unconscious by the fall, but had regained
consciousness and was speaking coherently, but was in pain.
"I picked up my mic and put out a call on the 146.910 repeater, one of
four repeaters run by Dean Cox, NR7K," Whiting said. "I called for
assistance a couple of times when Mac Magee, N6LRG,
in the Arizona Cane
"Mac lives about 50 miles away from the accident site," Whiting said.
"It's funny -- it's usually Washington County hams who are on the
repeaters, since that's the direction they're pointed in. But Mac lives
in Mohave County. And the accident happened in Mohave County. We were
lucky, since if the call was answered by a ham in Washington County,
there would have been a delay in them getting the info to the proper
authorities in Mohave County, but with Mac answering, all our
information went right to the proper place."
That morning, Magee told the ARRL that he came into my shack "and for
some reason, turned on the 2 meter rig and it happened to be on the
146.910 repeater. I usually have a problem with the repeater 'hearing'
me, so I rarely use it. About 11:20 Arizona time, I heard someone call
and say they had emergency traffic and needed help. I fully expected a
bevy of hams to answer the call, since so many are in range of that
machine, but after his second call, and no answer, I took it."
Magee said that the calling station had been flagged down by another
motorist. "He told me there had been an accident in the vicinity of
Poverty Mountain," he said. "I really had no idea where that was, but I
began to write down details. As soon as I had basic info, I called 911.
The Mohave County Sheriff Office answered; I explained who I was and
what the call was about."
The dispatcher asked Magee for the coordinates to the site, and Magee
relayed the request to Whiting. "I looked at my GPS and gave Mac my
coordinates, but he said the dispatcher wanted the coordinates from the
accident site," Whiting said. "So I got in my 4-wheel drive and drove
down the ridge to the site, about 5,600 feet above sea level, and got
the coordinates. I had to drive back to the ridge, another 1000 feet
up, to call Mac back, because I couldn't get a signal down there."
Whiting told the ARRL that in addition to his ham radio, he also
carries a set of FRS radios. "I gave one of the FRS radios to Todd and
he drove his Jeep down the ridge to the accident site," he said. "I
kept the other one and Todd was able to relay me information about the
injured woman's condition and I was able to relay that information to
Mac who in turn relayed it to the 911 dispatcher. Mac put the mic right
up to the phone so the dispatcher could hear exactly what was going on."
Magee said the 911 dispatcher requested more information: "While Hal
was replying, I held the phone up to my radio speaker. When he finished
with the details, I asked them if they copied that. The dispatcher said
he did, and they held me on the line. Hal and I talked a while as he
gave more data. When the dispatcher returned, they said a chopper was
being dispatched from Phoenix! Well, we finished that call after they
had the actual accident site GPS coordinates that Hal had passed on."
With emergency help on the way, Kluxdal returned to the ridge and he
and Whiting and his group went on their way to go check out an airplane
crash site, the original intent of their trip. "The family members told
us to go on and get on with our trip, so we did, after making sure they
were all okay," Whiting said. "So we left to go to the crash site,
about 3-4 miles away. As we were getting ready to return, we saw
the helicopter overhead, taking the injured woman to the hospital in
Las Vegas. We returned to the top of the ridge and a sheriff's deputy
was there and he told us that our GPS coordinates were off, but only by
20 feet! He said that the helicopter crew was real happy that they were
Whiting said they were glad to have been able to help. "This is a
remote area," he said. "There's only one way in, one way out with no
shortcuts to get in and out. There are only dirt roads, and it can get
very muddy when it rains a lot. I was out that way two weeks ago and
got stuck in the mud there, but it was all dry this past weekend."
Whiting said he learned a few things after this trip: "I am glad I had
my radio equipment with me, and I am glad there was someone listening
on the repeater to take the emergency call. Having the spare FRS radios
created an efficient means for relay with a non-ham person, and having
the GPS equipment provided a very effective means for the helicopter
rescue team to locate the accident, since they did not want the road
designation information but the exact patient coordinates. It would
have been useless to have my equipment if there had not been someone
listening. This proves that there is a good reason to keep your radios
with you and in good operating condition."
Whiting, who was first licensed in 1976, is the ARES Assistant
Emergency Coordinator for Washington County. A CAD Manager and Aerial
Photographer for Bulloch Brothers in Mesquite, Nevada
(he and Kluxdal
are co-workers), he is currently teaching an Amateur Radio licensing
class to 13 prospective hams at the Dixie Regional Medical Center in St
Magee said that before this incident he had never been involved in an
actual emergency. "I have established emergency communications
networks, in particular for the LDS Church in Newbury Park, California,
where I was the Stake Emergency Communications Coordinator." He told
the ARRL: "Our communications group won the first worldwide test of the
system back in the late 1980s. This is like ARRL Field Day, but
involved mostly LDS members and facilities, then under the name of Mercury
Amateur Radio Association (MARA). I feel very
pleased in knowing that I had the opportunity to serve in this rescue
incident and that every penny I spent on my system, radio and antenna
was certainly worth it. In these days of extensive cell phone
and coverage, isn't it satisfying to know that ham radio can still be
of use for public service?"
Coordinates of where the rescue took place:
CLICK HERE for a link to Google Maps
that will show the exact location where the woman was rescued.
This will give you an good idea of how remote this area of the country
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