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Hams Heliping others

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  • J. Gordon Beattie, Jr., W2TTT
    As a follow-up to the concern that Hams are not monitoring or prepared to help enough, here is an article for your enjoyment! BTW: Unless there is a concern
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 23, 2006
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      As a follow-up to the concern that Hams are not monitoring or prepared to
      help enough, here is an article for your enjoyment!
      BTW: Unless there is a concern for injury or death, the local police don't
      do anything except wait it out in the parking lot near the trailhead.
      The fellow who was hiking was stranded by darkness and was not prepared for
      the overnight in the woods.

      Happy Thanksgiving & 73,
      Gordon
      201.314.6964


      When "Being Prepared" Matters

      On Monday, October 9th several Amateur Radio operators, often called "Ham"
      radio operators were chatting on the radio as they made their way home after
      a day's work. One of them had taken some time off to go on a late afternoon
      hike in the beautiful Ramapo Mountains off of Skyline Drive in Oakland. He
      realized that he had overstayed his welcome and was running out of daylight.
      At about 7:00 PM he let several of the other hams know that he had some
      concerns about making it back to the parking lot before dark and was asking
      for some advice on how to proceed.

      One of the Amateur Radio operators was Gordon Beattie, callsign "W2TTT", and
      a Scoutmaster of an active Boy Scout Troop 139 from St. John the Evangelist
      Roman Catholic Church in Bergenfield. Gordon gently inquired about what the
      hiker had with him and how he felt. The hiker had nothing more than his
      portable Ham radio and his cell phone - no water, no jacket, no map, no GPS,
      no flashlight, no buddy. His attitude was good and he had no injuries but
      was a bit embarrassed for having gotten into the situation. His clothing
      was a t-shirt, shorts and sneakers which was OK, as the temperature was a
      comfortable 65 degrees, but as night fell it would be getting a bit chilly.

      The hiker was asked about his location and he indicated that he was on the
      "RED" trail but was unsure which way was best to reach him from the parking
      lot near Skyline Drive. He mentioned that he was near a scenic overlook
      above Interstate 287 and the Borough of Oakland.. Gordon suggested that
      since the weather was good that he move up the "RED" trail to that location
      and "sit tight" pending the arrival of a crew to guide him out. The
      location was good for a lone hiker's "well being" with a beautiful view of
      the area and the rising and nearly full Moon. In poor weather, the
      directions would have been to move down off the ridge and to take shelter.

      Another local Radio Amateur, Paul Cornett callsign, W2IP of Fair Lawn was
      familiar with the area and came up on the frequency after leaving work and
      joined in the dialogue to isolate the hiker's location. Paul determined
      that the lookout point on the "RED" trail was accessible from the parking
      lot via the "BLUE" trail. He and Gordon decided to meet and "fetch" the
      hiker, but a few more things had to be done before heading out. First, the
      Oakland and Ringwood Police Departments were notified of the situation and
      who would be going to guide out the hiker. In each case, the dispatchers
      were helpful and the Ringwood dispatcher took care to notify the State
      Forest Rangers in case they were needed. Several members of the Fair Lawn
      Radio Club, the Bergen Amateur Radio Association and the Bergen County FM
      Association stood by and offered to make calls to the hiker's family members
      and advice to Paul and Gordon. They also provided the hiker with assurance
      that things were going to be fine.

      Gordon also contacted Kevin Flannery, a member of the Boy Scout Troop 139
      Committee to let him know that he would be missing from the meeting that
      night and to inquire if his 15 year-old Life Scout son Andrew was available
      for this trek to bring back the lone hiker. Mr. Flannery was comfortable
      with this and handed the phone to his son to get the details. As
      background, Andrew is a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, and also an Amateur
      Radio operator with the callsign, KC2OAA. Other adults were tied up with
      Troop Committee or family matters and the other Junior Assistant
      Scoutmaster, Life Scout John Beattie (also a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster
      and Amateur Radio operator with the callsign KC2NZC) was delivering his
      brother back to the train to college and couldn't make it back in time to
      join them.

      So about 8:15 PM the three trekkers contacted the hiker on the radio from
      the trailhead parking lot, re-checked their gear and headed up the "BLUE"
      trail in search of the "RED" trail and their lone hiker friend. It was
      about an hour later when they tried to signal the hiker with a whistle that
      they realized that they were close to reaching him. The hiker confirmed by
      radio that he heard the whistle and shortly thereafter, they reached him.
      All were happy and a visible sense of relief came over the face of the
      hiker. Water was provided, first aid for a set of small scratches was
      offered and declined and for a few minutes they collected their thoughts and
      enjoyed the view. A radio message letting the Amateur Radio community of
      Bergen County know of their success in finding the hiker was made.
      Congratulations and thanks were sent in return. Phone calls to the police
      were made to inform them of our status and other calls were made to family
      members who were not Amateur Radio operators.

      About 9:40 PM everyone headed down the trail back to the parking lot and
      arriving back at the cars about 10:35 PM. The trail up had been reasonably
      rugged, though dry, which made footing sure. Had it been wet and cold, this
      would have been a bit "dicey", but conditions were ideal even if the
      circumstances less than desirable. The trail down was equally challenging
      and caution was taken to ensure that in haste or fatigue, that no injuries
      were incurred. After some additional "thank you" handshakes, phone calls
      to law enforcement and families, and some water, the hiker left. Paul,
      Gordon and Andrew reviewed the operation, preparedness, and contingencies
      before heading for home. This is an important step to capture important
      items in order to be better prepared in the future.

      Some things to consider about being prepared: All three trekkers had packs
      ready to go with First Aid kits, radios, GPSs, flashlights, rain gear, a
      fleece, gloves, whistle, spare batteries, a spare flashlight, matches, a
      fire starter, compass, map, note paper, pencil, notes with info on the
      hiker, police department numbers and key cell phone numbers, reflective vest
      and water in a few minutes after receiving the call.

      While Bergenfield's Troop 139 doesn't routinely train for search and rescue
      activities, it is not unexpected that the skills involved in Scouting get
      brought together to help others in need. Scouting doesn't just provide a
      set of mastered technical skills, but a set of accumulated experiences which
      provide the mental toughness to take care of things when needed by others.
      Routine Scouting adventures in Troop 139 of camping, cooking, hiking,
      swimming, canoeing, rifle shooting, archery, backpacking, climbing and
      rappelling, first aid and emergency preparedness are augmented by numerous
      academic, religious and service activities. A few years ago, the boys of
      the Troop decided that they wanted to improve their service capabilities by
      improving their First Aid and Radio Communications skills. Members of the
      Fair Lawn Radio Club and the Bergen Amateur Radio Association came to Troop
      meetings several times per month for four months to teach an Amateur Radio
      licensing course for about an hour each session. This provided many boys
      with the Electricity, Electronics and Radio Merit Badges as well as the
      opportunity to be issued an Amateur Radio License issued by the Federal
      Communications Commission. To date, three Scouts have passed the test and
      been issued Federal licenses. Most members of the Troop, both Scouts and
      adults have taken an American Heart Association CPR course given by a Troop
      parent who is a nurse. First Aid skills are taught to Scouts by experienced
      adults, who then in turn, teach the other, less experienced Scouts these
      skills. Two other Scouts became Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and
      now two Scouts and two adults are taking the Community Emergency Response
      Team (CERT) course.


      Boy Scout Troop 139 welcomes new Scouts at any time of the year as does Cub
      Scout Pack 139.
      Contact Scoutmaster Gordon Beattie at 201.314.6964 or email w2ttt@...

      The Fair Lawn Amateur Radio Club helps out with many public service
      operations and maintains a club station at the Fair Lawn Community Center.
      Go to www.flarc.org for more information.

      The Bergen Amateur Radio Association has many interesting activities
      including Transmitter Hunts, Kit Nights, Flea Markets, Public Service
      Events, Test Sessions and contest operations in the field.
      Go to www.bara.org for more information.
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