Know who to call in case of an outdoor emergency
All it takes is one second.
You’re in the woods -- hiking, mountain biking, perhaps backpacking and camping – and you slip and severely twist an ankle, or worse, break one. You realize you can’t get out on your own.
Or, the same happens to your companion, and you don’t want to leave them alone.
Perhaps, even, you’re perfectly fine, health-wise. But you suddenly realize you’re lost.
The time to think about that is long before you ever go into the forest.
Rescues, should you need one, take time to carry out. Park rangers, professional and volunteer search and rescue teams, or whoever it is that will respond to your emergency are often people at home when the call for help comes in. They may have to a central office to pick up clothing or gear. At the very least, they need to meet, get organized and develop a plan before starting their search.
That’s a serious undertaking anytime. It can be especially tricky depending on season of the year and availability of rescuers.
No matter what or when, it’s going to take time.
Your job, if possible, as the person who needs assistance, is to make it as easy as possible for those people to find you.
So, for starters, as soon as you know you’re in trouble, call for help. Don’t hesitate because you’re embarrassed or feel silly.
The sooner you make that call, the sooner emergency personnel can get to you.
Just make sure you know who to call.
The obvious answer, in most places, is 911. You’ll reach a dispatcher.
Be able to tell them, as specifically as possible, where you are. Identify the forest you’re in, what type of vehicle you drove to get there and what parking lots it’s in, what trail you are on or took in, what landmark – say, as creek valley – they can use to look for you if you went off trail, anything that can help them hone in on where you are.
Provide a call-back number, too, and then resist the temptation to call everyone else you know. Conserve your battery in case rescuers try to reach you.
Of course, there are still places in the wilds where calling 911 is not an option.
Before venturing into those areas, find out if there’s a different specific number you’ll need to use, and make sure everyone in your party knows what it is. Get that information from a park ranger, forester or other person responsible for where you’ll be.
And if it’s unlikely your cell phone will work at all, consider taking along a personal locator beacon.
Time outdoors is supposed to be fun, but accidents do happen. Make sure you’re ready in case one does.
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