A new ham radio operator who had her radio with her in the remote Idaho mountains, and an AmRRON Operator at home monitoring his radio save a life during roll-over truck crash on Saturday, Labor Day weekend.
03 September 2022
AmRRON radio operators have established a decade-long history of responding to real world disasters and emergencies,
including efforts resulting in lives being saved. This Labor Day weekend is another testament to ham radio and an
AmRRON Corps operator monitoring his radio, likely saving a young girl’s life, can be added to the list.
At approximately 16:30 (4:30pm) Pacific Time an emergency call came over the radio from a brand new Tech (Shannon,
of Coeur d’Aene, Idaho), calling ’emergency traffic’ and pleading for help. Shannon had just earned her Technician
license in June.
Tango-05 (AmRRON Corps Operator) was monitoring 146.420 simplex in his office when the call came. He immediately responded.
Shannon reported an accident at a remote mountain airstrip (Horsehaven Landing Strip) involving two teenage girls, ages 14 and 15, in a roll-over truck crash. Both reportedly were ejected from the truck, had compound fractures, one of them “bleeding out” and both of them described as “really messed up.”
Tango-05 called 911 and remained on the phone with dispatch during the entire ordeal, relaying between dispatch and Shannon on the AmRRON National Calling Frequency, 146.420.
An EMT who happened on to the scene applied a tourniquet to the girl with arterial bleeding. It was relayed through the ham operators to 911 dispatch that one of the girls had gone into shock and a Life Flight Medevac was needed immediately. Unfortunately, a storm cell was descending on the accident scene and Life Flight was grounded for at least the next thirty minutes. Dispatch announced that ground units from three different agencies were responding, but it would be at least a half hour before they might arrive.
Tango-05 jumped on the internet to access a Doppler radar map and he could see the storm cell that was approaching the Horsehaven Airstrip. He relayed to Shannon the warning that they had 7 to 10 minutes before the storm would arrive in order to gather tarps or any other type of shelter they could construct to protect the injured girls. Those on the ground expressed gratitude for the advanced warning from Tango-05. This is a great example of how grid-up tools can assist those in grid-down environments.
All three responding emergency agencies eventually arrived, and the girls were both transported to a local area hospital. By the time Life Flight was cleared to take off, the ground units were already ten minutes from the hospital, so the flight was canceled.
The status of the two injured girls is still unknown, but we will follow up with more information as it becomes available.
This is another great example of emergency communications being used when all else fails. There is no cell service available at this remote Idaho mountain location.
Kudos to ‘Shannon’ who had her license and her radio with her, as well as her husband, who was reportedly licensed at the same time. She was described as being calm and professional. And a huge kudos goes to Tango-05, who was monitoring his radio, acted quickly and appropriately, and created the link between the ham operator on the ground and 911 dispatch.
Other AmRRON operators monitoring the frequency stated that this situation was an exemplary display of the professionalism of AmRRON Corps operators, and that [Tango-05] “…did an outstanding job.”
This is yet one more example of ham radio saving lives. We will be following up with ‘Shannon’ for a possible interview, and will update this story as information becomes available.
One thing that is curious is ‘why’ they chose 146.420 simplex to call out from a remote, extremely steep, mountainous location. Maybe they’re new AmRRON members? We’re just thankful for the many AmRRON operators who faithfully monitor their radios.
Take away from this experience, when travelling in the back country:
Have your ham radio, with local repeater frequencies programmed, as well as the national calling frequencies — 146.520 and 146.420 (AmRRON).
Have a good first aid kit with you, especially a tourniquet!
Thank you to all the AmRRON operators out there, always standing ready to serve. You saved another life today!
UPDATE: Sunday, September 4th @0830 Pacific
We are just learning there were other AmRRON members, and other hams, involved as well, unbeknownst to Tango-05. The local ham radio club repeater (K7ID) was used toward the end of the incident. Below is an account by Foxtrot Alpha-03, who was monitoring from farther north, in Bonner County:
“After [Tango-05] went offline, Shannon requested an ETA for the ambulance due to the condition of one of the victims. She and another station on scene that I presume was her husband were unable to hear my response at first and announced they were going ot try the K7ID repeater network to see whether they could reach better. I called 911 and was sent to Bonner Dispatch because of my location, and after a brief discussion with that dispatcher, I was transferred to Kootenai County Dispatch. They informed me that they were unable to contact the ambulance but that they would call back if they found information on ETA. Shortly after I hung up, and after a confusing juggle between AmRRON simplex and K7ID repeater, “Bear Paw” [a well known and long-time ham operator and KARS club member] relayed to me that the ambulance had arrived. AmRRON Corps member ‘Hamlet-01’ also made attempts to contact Shannon and relay information. I just wanted to reinforce… that folks should have calling frequencies and local repeaters programmed into their radios and bring some where you go, particularly places that do not have conventional communications.”
“By the way, the repeater only slightly improved reception over simplex.”
CORRECTION: The story was initially reported as a rollover truck crash. The information that came after this story was posted indicated, from multiple sources, it was in fact an ATV crash.
Do YOU have a story when you directly assisted in a real-world emergency and it made a difference? Maybe saved lives? Let us know!