Amateur Radio to the Rescue

[html] Amateur Radio Emergency Service
Aids 4×4 (Highriders Four wheel Drive Club) Rescue Operation
Peppers Lake AB – September 28, 2002

by Garry McCallum VE6PNQ – ARES

Dave VE6DRD and other members of the Highriders Four Wheel Drive Club came to the rescue of a badly injured quad ATV driver when they came across an accident scene in a remote area near Peppers Lake southwest of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta Saturday September 28, 2002.

When people at the accident scene were unable to make a 911 call, VE6DRD used his amateur radio equipment to call Red Deer 911 on the Central Alberta Radio League VHF repeater network. Using the VE6VHF repeater on top of Baseline Mountain messages were relayed to Rocky Mountain House ambulance dispatchers, R.C.M.P. and medivac helicopter pilots by the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) team in Red Deer.

Other members of the 4 Wheel drive group provided on scene first aid, marked a helicopter landing zone near the injured patient and sent guide vehicles to the nearest road to meet R.C.M.P. and EMS ground vehicles.

Highriders club amateurs Kevin VA6CDN and Steve VA6AMC helped Dave use his Global Positioning System equipment to relay accurate location information to the STARS helicopter pilots allowing them to fly directly to the injured patient.

Within 2 hours of the first call the patient was stabilized, extracted from the remote accident scene and airlifted to surgery by helicopter.

Dave was using an ADI AR147 2 meter rig with a 5/8 whip to reach the VE6VHF repeater site. His Etrix Legend GPS was set to read UTM format as the four wheel drive

clubs in Alberta use maps in this format. It is often necessary to report accident locations in Longitude and Latitude as many emergency services do not yet have GPS receivers or new maps calibrated in UTM. Steve VE6AMC and Kevin VE6CD got on the air to help Dave convert UTM co-ordinates to Longitude and Latitude on his GPS and report his position to Rocky Mountain House Ambulance dispatchers..

Dave first got interested in amateur radio from other members of the Highrider Extreme Off Road club ( Kevin VA6CDN , and Steve VA6AMC).

Dave comments on his experience:

“I understood and appreciated the incredible capabilities this system has out in the back country and how it could save someone or myself in such things as breakdowns, or injuries. I felt communication was vital when you are potentially so far from any main roads and a problem arises. In combination with a GPS someone can always find you! I went out and purchased the book called Now You’re Talking! All You Need to Get Your First Ham Radio License by Larry D. Wolfgang .

I started reading the book last winter, and after about 6 weeks, I began studying the online test located on the Highriders website ( I believe it is from your site). Off and on for the next 3 months I went through it. When I got confident enough to write I called up John Kostiw VE6ONE to write my exam (got his name from Kevin). I passed with a 76%..

So I have had my license since the first part of May 2002. Since then, I really only use my radio when I go out four wheeling as I have it mounted in my jeep, which I don’t drive much on the road.

So I haven’t really had a lot of experience talking, just a little here and there. I have never made an emergency call before, and from my experience last weekend I have learned a great deal. I was just curious on how often you guys monitor?

If there is a next time, maybe I will call you guys first, to get a land line connection thus allowing the time (limited auto-patch time) needed to relay information. Just a thought?

The other Highriders in the group were Mark Cymbaluk and Niel Fitsimons. There was also another person there which was giving me the updates on the (patient’s) vitals, and he had some advanced first aid training, however I failed to get his name. Everyone on the scene had a job, we were all working together it was nice to see.

Just another note, I (and I believe most of the Highriders) carry good quality first aid kits, as we did use the one I had (dressings, rubber gloves, etc). I along with a few other Highriders have advanced CPR/first aid as well. I think ground flares would be a great addition to the first aid kit….just a thought.”

Follow Up

September 30, 2002

Hello Garry, This is David VE6DRD, just got back from visiting Gered May (ATV victim) at the hospital. He is doing remarkably well considering his injuries. The broken femur was pinned, his upper arm was not broken but his elbow was dislocated, and several stitches on his forehead. His collarbone was broken as well. He will be in Red Deer till the end of the week, then will be transferred to his home town hospital which is Drayton Valley. His parents were visiting as well, and they were all very grateful to everyone involved. I just wanted to thank you again for your coordination and that reassuring voice on the other end that made the whole rescue run so smoothly. On behalf of Gered, his family and myself thank you. [/html]