Make the McKenzie Connection!

Rescue teams were busy

Technology helped searchers find a motorist stranded in the snow after the vehicle became stuck in an area where cell service wouldn’t connect. Making his situation worse, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue reports his family was out of the country and nobody knew where he had gone or to call for help if he didn’t make it home.

Once stranded he made several smart decisions. First, he stayed with his vehicle. Second, he used some ingenuity to find a way to call for help. The man had a drone with him and attached his cell phone to the drone. He then typed a text message to a trusted person describing his situation and exact location hit send and launched the drone several hundred feet into the air.

The increased elevation allowed his phone to connect to a tower and send the message, which resulted in searchers being deployed to locate and assist him.

While the teams were rescuing the man with the drone, another motorist who had also been stranded nearby for multiple days was located and rescued.

“We are happy with the outcome of this call for service, and impressed with the creatively displayed to call for help,” according to a Search & Rescue Facebook post. “We would like to take this opportunity to ask everyone to help us spread some important winter travel safety messages:

1. Forest Roads are not maintained for winter travel. Any attempt to travel on unmaintained snow or ice-covered roads (no matter how much or little) should only be made with a group of well-equipped vehicles. If one vehicle becomes stuck, the other vehicles can attempt to free the stuck vehicle or can turn around and be used to drive everyone back to safety.

2. Always tell a responsible person EXACTLY where you are going, and when you expect to be back. Do not deviate from this plan. If a road becomes unpassable, turn around and go back the way you came, do not attempt a detour without first updating your plan with your emergency contact.

3. Of the dozens of missions we have had this winter involving a vehicle stuck in the snow, nearly all of them were 4x4 vehicles and almost all of the drivers told us “I didn’t think I would get stuck.” Instead of asking yourself whether you think you can get through a section of road, ask yourself “What will happen if I do get stuck?” If you (and the group of other vehicles you are traveling with) are not prepared to deal with any of the possible outcomes from an attempt, turn around and go back the way you came.

*Photo of a drone is a reenactment, not the actual setup used by the subject.

In another incident ...

Last week deputies from the Linn County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team were receiving winter survival and snow vehicle operator training at Ray Benson Snopark near Hoodoo.

During the very last hour of their training, Linn County dispatch received a call from two cross-country skiers who needed help because their dog was injured and couldn’t walk.

Since the team was in the area, they drove four miles in deep snow to the area the skiers were last reported. Search and Rescue members then snowshoed about 100 yards down the trail, and were able to locate the two skiers and their injured dog. The dog was placed on a tarp which was used as a sled and pulled back to the SnoCat.

The two skiers and their dog Bodie were rescued and taken back to their car at Ray Benson Snow Park.

This was a great way to end a week of training by applying it in the real world.


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