ARRL member Alden Sumner Jones IV, KC1JWR, of Bennington, Vermont, is thankful for amateur radio, after he suffered a medical incident and lost consciousness on June 15 while hiking with others along a remote section of the Long Trail, not far from his home. An EMT from Appalachian Mountain Rescue (AMR), who was hiking nearby, saw Jones pass out but was unable to connect with 911 via his cell phone. Jones, 41, regained consciousness and was successful in contacting Ron Wonderlick, AG1W, via the Northern Berkshire Amateur Radio Club’s K1FFK repeater on Mount Greylock, and Wonderlick initiated what turned into an 8-hour effort to get Jones off the trail and to a medical facility, acting as a relay among Jones, emergency crews, and other agencies involved. As the Bennington Post reported, “The Vermont State Police also received assistance from several licensed amateur radio operators who helped facilitate communications, greatly assisting in the rescue.”
Matthew Sacco, KC1JPU, headed to a staging area where rescue crews were gathering. When he could not make it into the repeater, he employed some ham radio ingenuity to fashion a J-pole antenna from some window line he had on hand, casting it into a tree using a fishing pole. That did the trick. An individual on site was able to obtain an accurate location for Jones using the GPS on his cell phone.
After it was determined that rescuers could not reach Jones using an all-terrain vehicle, arrangements were made to have a search-and-rescue crew from New York retrieve Jones by helicopter. Amateur radio participants were able to relay critical information, including an accurate location, as preparations continued.
Jones, meanwhile, took advantage of his time with the EMT and other rescuers to talk up amateur radio and explaining how to get licensed. According to one account, rescuers were having trouble making contact with the helicopter, so Jones loaned them a better antenna he happened to have.
Jones was eventually flown to a hospital in Albany, New York, again taking advantage of the occasion to promote amateur radio to the helicopter pilot and crew. Jones is said to be recovering.
“Ham radio saved my life last night, and I am very thankful for how everyone helped me,” Jones said afterward.
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