I am solo backpacker who understands the dangers of traveling into a wilderness area alone or with others. I always carry a GPS satellite communicator with me. My choice is the Garmin inReach Explorer Plus. A satellite communicator allows you to communicate with others using the network of satellites circling the earth. There are three different types of satellite communicators available for you to use. They is a voice, (sat phone), text (Garmin inReach spot), or a PLB, (Personal Locating Beacon) such as ACR.
This article is about a friend of mine, Christian VonBargen, who used his satellite communicator (inReach Explorer) to rescue someone in a remote section of Idaho. This is his rescue story
Christian VonBargen’s Rescue Story
On August 2, 2018, I flew into Boise, Idaho for a backpacking trip into the White Clouds Wilderness, located within the Sawtooth National Forest. After purchasing a few supplies from REI, I started the 4.5 hour drive to the trailhead. I was on a very remote and rugged stretch of Idaho State Highway 21 when I noticed a motorcycle parked on the side of the road. I quickly realized there was a second motorcycle that had run off of the run and crashed into a steep ravine. The motorcycle parked on the side of the road belonged to an adult male. The motorcycle in the ravine belonged to the man’s wife. Unfortunately, she became pinned under the large motorcycle when she crashed into the ravine.
I could see help was needed and I immediately rented aid. I began climbing into the ravine to help the husband lift the motorcycle off of his wife. By this time several other people began stopping. As I climbed into the ravine, I asked other people to call 911, as it was obvious the female was severely injured. Unfortunately, there was no cell signal and no one was able to call 911 for help. I immediately remembered I had my Delorme inReach Explorer in my vehicle. I climbed out of the ravine and retrieved the inReach Explorer.
I activated the SOS button on my inReach. I was unsure of what to expect, as I had never utilized the SOS function before. Thankfully, the SOS function worked flawlessly. Within minutes, I was in contact with personnel with the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC). First aid was rendered to the victim as I relayed that vital information to the IERCC. I maintained contact with the IERCC providing updates on the victim’s condition. Rescue personnel arrived on scene approximately 45 minutes after I hit the SOS button.
After arriving on scene, rescue personnel determined the female needed to be airlifted by helicopter. Due to the remote/rugged, mountainous terrain, rescue personnel were unable to utilize their radios to request the helicopter. The rescue personnel were not equipped with a satellite communication device and they asked me to request the helicopter utilizing my inReach Explorer. I requested the helicopter, which arrived approximately 30 minutes later. The victim was airlifted to a hospital in Boise and she survived.
This story is a good example of why you should have some type of satellite communicator with you on your wilderness adventure. There are many types of satellite communicators available for you to choose, (Sat phone, Text, PLB). I use the Garmin inReach Explorer Plus as my choice for various reasons and I have posted an article on this unit here on my website. I am not payed or endorsed by Garmin nor do I get free products from them. Your choice of which type to use will be what works best for you.
Having a GPS communicator not only can save your life but it may save the life of another as you read above. The cost of purchasing a satellite communicator has come down in recent years and there are various plans that are also very affordable. No matter what device you choose have one with you on your next adventure. It could save your life or the life of another.