Linked Ham Radio Repeater System Instrumental in Hiker Rescue
A hiker in distress in Nevada is thankful that he had his hand-held transceiver along when he found himself stranded in the hills near Henderson. Western Intertie Network (WIN) System member Jim Frederick, KF6QBW, in Arizona reports he was monitoring the system November 3 around midday when he heard, “Mayday, Mayday. Hiker in distress!” from his WIN System repeater.
“I grabbed a charged battery for my VX-5, and the call came over the radio again,” Frederick says. He responded, and the hiker on the other end, Nathan Rischling, KDØHFM, of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, told him he’d misread the elevation on his topographical map, had ended up on a very steep and rough area, had stuck his hand on a cactus, and could find no safe way out of his situation. He had a GPS, however, and was able to provide Frederick with his precise coordinates. Rischling said he had a day’s worth of food and water but needed help getting off the mountain, as he would not get back to his starting point before sundown and didn’t think his GPS battery would last out the trip.
“KDØHFM stated that he did not take a conventional trail and was using a topographical map and GPS for guidance,” Frederick explained.
Frederick said he knew from experience that a call to the Las Vegas search and rescue would expedite the process, so he put out a call on the WIN System for any Las Vegas station that could make the call. James Freeman, KG7EWP, promptly came back, and Frederick handed off the emergency traffic. Freeman called 911 and spoke with search and rescue, and stood by until the situation was resolved. Within 15 minutes a rescue helicopter was on the way.
Frederick kept his ear to the radio until the event was resolved, in case someone needed more information from him, and a few hours later, he overheard Rischling thank KG7EWP for helping “and everyone else on the WIN System for standing by.”
The WIN System is a series of 90 linked, or inter-tied repeaters — most on UHF (70 centimeters) — that cover a substantial portion of California, 16 other states, and four countries around the world. It is owned and operated by Shorty Stouffer, K6JSI. KF6QBW is an affiliated repeater station with the WIN System.
“Without Shorty, K6JSI (my Elmer), and the WIN System and its members, I would not have known what to do, let alone been able to help, as I was just a link in this chain of events,” Frederick said. — Thanks to Chuck Baer, W4ROA; Jim Frederick, KF6QBW; Shorty Stouffer, K6JSI, and Sean Kutzko, KX9X