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Injured Colorado Skier Uses Amateur Radio to Summon Help


When Steve Priem, N0YIV, of Boulder, Colorado, decided to go backcountry skiing near Yankee Doodle Lake in the Guinn Mountain area of Colorado's Roosevelt National Forest on Friday, February 19, the 60 year old ham made sure he was well prepared: Not only did he take along a rescue whistle, he made sure his handheld transceiver was fully charged and in his pack.

It's a good thing he did: When Priem was injured while skiing; he used his radio to summon help. According to ARRL Colorado Section Manager Jeff Ryan, K0RM, a ham more than 100 miles away in Colorado Springs answered Priem's call for help and called 911. Priem was able to provide GPS coordinates for his position.

According to KCNC -- the CBS affiliate television station in Denver -- Priem asked the amateur on the other end of the radio where he was locate. "He said, 'I'm in Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, Boulder County, 120 miles away." The identity of the Colorado Springs ham is not known at this time.

The 911 operator received the call for help around 4 PM and emergency responders reached Priem around 7:30 that evening, according to the sheriff's office. Priem was evacuated five miles via snowmobile to the town of Eldora to a waiting ambulance.

Roger Krautkremer, K0YY -- a member of the Colorado Alpine Rescue Team Communications Unit and Colorado ARES® District 9 -- told the ARRL that Alpine Rescue, Boulder County's Rocky Mountain Rescue Group and Gilpin County's Timberline Fire Department responded to the call. "Priem was located in deep snow in Boulder County backcountry and the rescue teams would need to bring him down the mountain terrain by way of adjacent Gilpin County," Krautkremer said. The rescue teams coordinated via Amateur Radio, using both simplex and the mountaintop repeaters maintained by Rocky Mountain Ham Radio, the Rocky Mountain Radio League and the Colorado Connection Repeaters.

"This is a good example of multiple agencies working together to rescue an injured individual in difficult back country deep snow," Krautkremer said. "The incident provided communications challenges coordinating among the several responding agencies on both the operations and on-scene tactical frequencies. Ham radio played a role in positioning resources and advising the Command Post and Operations Centers of en route resources."

According to a report from KCNC, Priem was praised by the group leader from Rocky Mountain Rescue for being so well prepared to be in the back country: "The snow is blowing, it's dark, it's cold and when we're on snow machines, we can't hear very well. But we turn them off and we listen and we can hear his whistle from a long way away," said Jeff Sparkhawk of the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group.

Ryan said that Priem was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for two cracked ribs and a knee "that was swollen to the size of a grapefruit." Priem told a reporter from KCNC that he would like to find the Colorado Springs ham and thank him for saving his life.  -- Thanks to ARRL Colorado Section Manager Jeff Ryan, K0RM, and television station KCNC for the information



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