Maritime Mobile Service Network Aids in Separate Land-Based Emergencies
While best known for its efforts to aid voyagers on the high seas, the Maritime Mobile Service Network (MMSN) occasionally helps out in land-based emergencies too. That was the case recently when MMSN net control stations received distress calls regarding motor vehicle incidents in Nevada and Texas. On July 24, MMSN Net Control Station Ken Porter, AC0ML, was notified by HF mobile operator George Molnar, KF2T, that he had witnessed a tractor-trailer mishap on Nevada Highway 318. The rig had apparently skidded and landed on its side in a canyon, precluding the use of cell phone or Amateur Radio VHF/UHF systems.
“We were out in the middle of nowhere, where no cell carrier covered — I had three cell devices with me — no OnStar, not even any highway department radio coverage,” Molnar said later. “Truckers’ CBs didn’t reach anyone outside the canyon. Only ham radio worked!”
Porter placed the net in emergency status, pinned down further details on the wreck, and notified the Las Vegas Police Department to relay the necessary information. A short time later, Nevada Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched to the scene. There were no injuries, but the highway was completely blocked in both directions, and some of the tractor-trailer’s perishable cargo ended up scattered on the roadway.
Porter, the NCS, later said that he was “quite surprised” to get a call regarding a land-based emergency but also understood why this might happen, given that the Net’s availability on 14.300 MHz daily from 1600 to 0200 UTC, and the fact that many hams are aware of its existence.
Several weeks earlier, on June 18, MMSN NCS Donald Plunkett, VA6FH, was called by a trucker-ham who reported a serious motor vehicle accident involving a truck and a car outside of Stockton, Texas. The station calling in requested that the net contact the Texas Department of Public Safety, since he was outside of cell phone and VHF/UHF repeater range. Emergency units were sent to the scene.
“Maritime Mobile Service Network net control stations are used to assisting maritime stations with routine reports, weather information and emergencies,” said Second Assistant Net Manager Jeff Savasta, KB4JKL. “This incident represents a land-based rescue in which the reporting station advised that he knew that the Net was always on 14.300.” — Thanks to Hurricane Watch Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV