goes-and goes-rgoes

Taking the search out of search and rescue

Taking the search out of search and rescue

Technology saves the day!

Cartoon shows girl in hiking boots and with a backpack standing on a hillside trail, part of the trail has crumbled away. she looks worried, and hears a cry of help coming from the bushes below. A tiny bit of a red backpack can be seen in the bushes below.

“Help! Help!”

The cries came from over the next hill. Papa and I looked at each other with wide eyes. Oh no! Could it be . . .?


We hurried along the narrow trail toward the voice. We had to step carefully, though. This was the worst part of the trail, according to Papa. It was covered with loose rocks.

“I was afraid something like this would happen,” Papa declared. “I told that boy not to go too fast or get too far ahead. But would he listen?”

The cries got louder, until we reached a spot where the loose rocks on the trail had spilled down into the brush below.

“Roberto, where are you?” Papa called. I tried to call my uncle’s name too, but I was so scared nothing came out of my mouth.

“Down here!” came the reply.

Papa held me back as I leaned and tried to look over the edge into the steep ravine below.

“Where? I don’t see you?”

“Ow! Down here! I think my leg is broken. In fact, I know it is.”

We followed with our eyes where the dirt was freshly scraped and the bushes flattened. About 30 feet below, we could barely see a bit of Roberto’s bright red backpack.

“OK, I think we see you down there.”

“A helicopter! But Papa, you said the cell phone doesn’t work up here in the mountains! How will you get a helicopter?”

"With this!" said Papa.

“What are we going to do, Papa?” I asked. “Are you going to go down there?”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea. Then there’d be two of us to rescue.”

“Hang on, hermanito!” called Papa. Then Papa took off his backpack and started to hunt through it.

“What are you looking for? A rope?” I asked anxiously.

“No. If his leg is broken, a rope isn’t going to help. We must get Roberto out of here and to the hospital. We need something much bigger. Like a helicopter!”

“A helicopter! But Papa, you said the cell phone doesn’t work up here in the mountains! How will you get a helicopter?”

Hands holding an emergency beacon transmitter, about the size of a cordless phone.

“With this!” Papa pulled something out of his backpack. It was a small yellow plastic thing about as big as his hand. It definitely was not a phone. He opened a cover, pulled up a small antenna, and pushed a button.

“Huh? What is that?” I asked.

“This, mija, is a Personal Locator Beacon device. And am I glad I bought it for this trip!”

“How’s that going to help us now?” I asked.

“Just you wait and see,” Papa said calmly.

And, sure enough, in a short while, we heard a helicopter approaching.

The rescue was amazing. The helicopter hovered above us, while a man slid down on a rope to reach Uncle Roberto. He put Uncle Roberto in a basket, and the helicopter hoisted him up. Then they hoisted us up too!

We flew to the hospital. It was my first helicopter ride! Uncle Roberto got his broken leg fixed and is going to be fine.

“Exploring the wilderness is wonderful,” says Papa. “But having a technology like SARSAT when we get in trouble makes me really glad I live in modern times.”

“Yeah, me too,” says Uncle Roberto.

article last updated March 18, 2015

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