This Week in SOS

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It’s been a busy week for inReach rescues, with several high-profile rescues taking place over the weekend and early this week. Today we will take a look at two of them.

Hiker Recovering After Having Stroke on John Muir Trail in Fresno County

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Officers in the California Highway Patrol helicopter and a Fresno County Sheriff’s deputy rescued a hiker who suffered a mild stroke Sunday evening along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Tara Steele, 66, from Santa Rosa was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail when she suffered an apparent stroke and was able to activate SOS on her inReach SE and request a medical evacuation.

“Because she had this device, we knew exactly where she was at,” CHP Ofc. Rusty Hotchkiss said.

“My daughter required that I had some way of communicating with her. How amazing it is that technology and people can make this happen,” Steele said to reporters.

Good Samaritan Saves Life of Injured Kayaker

On Tuesday, a canoe party on the Allagash River in northern Maine spotted a severely injured kayaker at the base of Allagash Falls. He used an inReach that he had borrowed from his father to declare SOS and begin organizing an emergency evacuation.

Members of the Maine Ranger Service and the Maine Warden Service arrived on the scene and helped transport the injured kayaker, a New Jersey native, up river where an ambulance was waiting.

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Location of Allagash Falls in northern Maine.

Due to the isolated location of the Allagash Falls, Game Warden Adrian Marquis said the kayaker was fortunate that the canoeing party was carrying an inReach, which enabled them to send text messages to law enforcement for assistance.

“There’s no cell service out there so it was a good thing they had that,” Warden Marquis said.

inReach Women of Adventure: Karen Siegel

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As co-founder of ActiveCaptain.com, Karen lives full-time on board aCappella, a DeFever 53RPH pilothouse trawler, with her husband Jeffrey and their two dogs, Dylan and Dee Dee. She has logged some 35,000 nautical miles cruising between Maine and the Caribbean. Karen’s father gave her a love of seeing new places, showing her that a life well lived is not about the things you acquire, but about the adventures you experience.

Historical Karen

As part of our ongoing Women of Adventure campaign, today we take a look at some of Karen’s favorite highlights from her years on the water.

Roque Island, Maine – 2008

Roque Island was our destination. We wanted to spend a night there and then travel further into Machias Bay and explore other anchorages tomorrow. At around noon we turned the corner into the set of islands making up this large archipelago and saw an amazing site. A white sand beach. Right here in Maine. Downeast Maine no less.

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The harbor is large enough for 500 boats. Maybe 1,000. Maybe 2,000. We shared it with one other boat about a mile away.

We quickly anchored, launched the dinghy, threw the dogs onboard, and took off for the beach. And what a beach it is. It rivals any beach in the Bahamas. It’s a good 300 feet deep and about a mile wide in a crescent shape. Most of the beach is all sand. Part of it has some small pebbles at the lowest part of the tide. It was simply amazing.

Cumberland Island, Georgia – 2014

If you’ve been following TakingPaws over the years, you know that Cumberland Island in Georgia has always been a very special place for the aCappella crew. Dyna and Dylan enjoyed numerous stops over the years, sometimes for just a few days, and sometimes for over a week. It’s a beautiful, relaxing, and fun stop for the whole crew.

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It starts with a dinghy ride from the boat to the dock. Dinghy rides have always been a favorite with the aCappella crew.

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Unfortunately, Dee Dee has not yet earned untethered swimming privileges, so she remains tied (literally) to her dad. Still she had a great time and both crew members enjoyed several days of play.

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We had our own quiet walk on the beach where we saw the wild horses up close and personal.

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You can see why Cumberland Island stays on our must stop list every year.

To read more of Karen’s blog, check out www.takingpaws.com

 

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Last week we received news of an SOS event in the Puget Sound of Washington involving a capsized canoe off the coast of Orcas Island, Washington. After reaching out to the customer, we learned that an inReach Explorer played a critical role in coordinating the rescue and notifying the correct stakeholders of the incident.

Today welcome Paul Sheridan, Camp Director at the Four Winds * Westward Ho camp, to recount the harrowing experience that ended safely and with everyone accounted for.

Every summer, 25-foot wood and canvas war canoes, built by Old Town Canoe Company in the 1920s and 1930s, take Four Winds * Westward Ho campers on multi-day trips throughout the San Juan Islands. These are not standard canoes, but much larger, and take 6-10 people to paddle. It’s an extraordinary way for a group of young people to explore these islands, under human power, only able to get to the next campsite if they work together.

On July 29, one of our war canoes swamped on the last day of a three day trip with seven 13-year-old boys aboard and two of our staff.

That morning the group woke up early at Point Doughty to catch a fair current to head back to Four Winds. Our trip leaders are well trained in understanding our local currents. They set out on the water at about 6 a.m. Shortly after leaving Point Doughty, they got caught parallel to a set of 2-3 foot high rolling waves. Two rollers put about ankle deep water into the canoe, and they began to bail it out. A third, larger wave, completely swamped the boat.

Sitting upright in the swamped boat, the trip leader went to his Four Winds training. Judging it too far to swim to shore, he had the boys turn the boat upside down, and pull their bodies on top of it. We train on this, and it worked extraordinarily well. It kept the group together, provided flotation beyond the PFDs that all aboard were wearing, and kept the boys’ bodies partially out of the cold water. Since this was the first war canoe capsizing we’ve had in over 30 years, it was great to see the training work so well in a real life incident.

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An Old Town canoe used by the camp. Image courtesy of Four Winds Camp

Once the boys were stable on the overturned boat, the trip leader dug into his waterproof emergency bag. In there are five communication devices: A cell phone, a VHF radio, a DeLorme inReach, flares and an air horn. That redundancy in systems proved useful, because only three of the five communication devices proved useful. The cell phone got wet and didn’t work and the flares malfunctioned. The trip leader and the counselor began hailing for help via VHF, inReach and air horn. Throughout this entire period, the boys were in good spirits, making jokes and remarking on the oddity of their circumstances. Hearing that help was on the way was calming.

A Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched, and hovered above the canoe. The boys were brought to West Beach Resort, where dozens of Orcas Fire and Rescue EMTs were waiting. Some of the boys were exhibiting signs of mild hypothermia, namely shivering. They were given blankets, snacks and hot chocolate, and were in good shape within a few minutes of arriving on shore.

I learned of the incident via text message from the inReach at 6:30 a.m. stating that an SOS had been declared and the group’s location, about 1,000 feet off of West Beach. GEOS (DeLorme’s worldwide search and rescue coordination partner) called me immediately to confirm that emergency response should be activated. I said it should be. I then called the 24-hour emergency number for our good friends at YMCA Camp Orkila, since they were much closer to the incident. They were kind enough to go out in their boat, but by the time they arrived, the boys had already been fished out of the water. About 20 minutes after receiving the text, I got a call from the trip leader stating that the boys were on shore, and all was well. Later in the day, I was able to speak with all the parents of the boys involved, and all were pleased with our handling of the incident.

Most of all, I’m thankful for our friends and neighbors who helped that day: West Beach Resort, Outer Island Expeditions, Camp Orkila, the Coast Guard, Orcas Fire and Rescue and many private good samaritans. Thanks to all of you.

inReach Team Tracking: Use Case

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“As firefighters in the wild land fire community we are always looking for way to do our jobs better and more safely. While the inReach device has its own parameters for use, it provides us with the ability to communicate in virtually any situation with 100% satellite coverage for any location. As a part of our communication arsenal of technologies, inReach has become a critical asset for BLM Colorado and increases our personnel’s chances of staying out of harm’s way. If/when the emergency happens, I feel confident that we have the latest technology at our disposal.”
Unaweep Wildland Fire Module, Upper Colorado River Fire Management Unit in Grand Junction, CO

Team Tracking is a feature available for inReach Enterprise accounts that lets inReach devices send position updates directly from one inReach to another. When this feature is enabled all devices in a group with Enabled Team Tracking can view the locations of other devices directly on the Map page of the unit or paired mobile device.

Only enterprise account administrators are allowed to turn on the Team Tracking feature on an account. If you are the administrator of an Enterprise account, you can follow the instructions below to set up this feature. If your account is not an Enterprise account, you will need to contact Customer Care to inquire about switching to an Enterprise account.

The following use case demonstrates the value of Team Tracking, and just one of its many applications in the remote worker category.

A forest fire is raging in Colorado as the USFS sets up an Incident Command Center (ICC) at a junction of two state highways, about 5 miles west of the fire. Joe Smith, the Incident Commander (IC), acts as the supervisor to all active units on the call – including the engine crew, hotshot crew, various ground crews, an air crew, and smoke jumpers.

Smith has Team Tracking configured to manage operations from a remote location, such as this junction in northwestern Colorado which has no cellphone service or internet access. Each of his crew leaders has an inReach Explorer, configured to contribute to team tracking, which is monitored by Smith at ICC. Smith, using Earthmate, can now see on a map where all of his crews are operating, and able to direct resources accordingly.

Just as an airdrop is arriving in the area to resupply the ground crews, the wind shifts, sending smoke and embers into the scheduled drop zone. Realizing he must make a careful decision, Smith looks at his map and selects a location that is upwind and out of harm’s way. Smith then opens Earthmate and discovers that he has a ground crew just a few hundred meters from the newly selected drop zone, and orders them to retrieve the supplies while another ground crew shifts to cover their previous location. This fast, informed decision was made possible by Team Tracking through inReach, saving the operation time, money and potentially the well-being of the ground crews.

As the efforts to contain and extinguish the fire continue, Smith is able to visualize the size, shape, and path of the fire based on the locations of his various crews, giving him valuable information to make intelligent operations and resource allocation decisions.

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