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high pivot witchcraft
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey guys. I am hitting some pretty remote areas these days with my daughter. She has completed her St. John Ambulance First Aid and CPR emergency training. I carry all the usual things in my CamelBak, including a mini first aid kit (as well as bike and CamelBak strap mounted bear spray, bangers and a "knife"). I am trying to figure out what she needs to know and do in case I crash and am left unconscious, deep in the back country.

I am thinking about picking up a sat phone. That would probably go a long way in addressing this issue. Any other advice I can pass on to my daughter, or do to prepare for this?

Last evening, after a fantastic ride in a popular, NOT remote, close to my home riding area (that is nonetheless awesome, especially given its proximity), I was enjoying a post ride tailgate dinner with my little crew, when 5 emergency vehicles blasted in, sirens blaring and lights flashing. While I was rushing about hiding beers, a helicopter swooped in and landed in the parking lot.

A girl had been bucked from her horse and apparently, suffered a near fatal back/neck injury. The helicopter couldn't land in the trail area, so it lifted some brave medical person on a rope high in the air, and lowered him and a stretcher at the injury site. The helicopter returned to the trailhead and landed again.

I spoke with the pilot for about 20 minutes while the medical person readied the injured girl for pickup by the helicopter.

The pilot was a rock star. 5 rescues yesterday alone, 2 at Bragg Creek (which is where I was). He rescued 2 climbers who were stranded halfway up a rock face, dealt with the equestrian accident, and attended for 3 biking-related injuries.

$2800 an hour to operate the helicopter, funded by government.

Helicopter Aircraft Rotorcraft Plant Vehicle
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Have you guys ever witnessed a rescue like this? It was fascinating. I have been biking at Bragg a minimum of twice a week, for 25+ years. I have never seen this before. The pilot said it was just a matter of timing as he is there at least once a week. WOW!

Anyway, all this got me thinking...

Getting back to the original question, any advice in case of a back country emergency, including any links to any sites containing prep info, would be very much appreciated. Thanks.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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I've never witnessed anything quite that intense. but as a rider, I've been involved at some level with helping several folks who have had injuries serious enough that they needed to be removed from the trail. A couple concussions (one with a broken nose and lots of bleeding), broken collarbone and/or shoulder dislocation, that sort of thing. They've all been more or less able to move around on their own, but realistically, helping them off the trail and to the nearest ER was a better course of action for them.

I think the best thing is training. wilderness medicine courses are great, as there are things that are different from the standard first aid/cpr classes. namely with improvisation and dealing with more extended time-to-care. how to support folks until that help/care arrives. that training will also help you build out your kit with stuff that's useful and help you avoid carrying stuff that's not so necessary.

satellite devices are probably a good idea if cell reception is problematic. IMO, a sat phone is a better choice if you're really out far and for a longer period of time (esp multi-day trips). sat messengers seem good if you need the ability to do a little 2-way communication along with having an SOS feature to light a fire under emergency response. a true PLB being for emergency response only (and being the best at it).

I'm leaning more towards the messenger side for my uses. the messenger function is handy for non-emergency comms when cell reception sucks. would make me a little more comfortable doing solo stuff in the more remote areas nearby.
 

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high pivot witchcraft
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I've never witnessed anything quite that intense. but as a rider, I've been involved at some level with helping several folks who have had injuries serious enough that they needed to be removed from the trail. A couple concussions (one with a broken nose and lots of bleeding), broken collarbone and/or shoulder dislocation, that sort of thing. They've all been more or less able to move around on their own, but realistically, helping them off the trail and to the nearest ER was a better course of action for them.

I think the best thing is training. wilderness medicine courses are great, as there are things that are different from the standard first aid/cpr classes. namely with improvisation and dealing with more extended time-to-care. how to support folks until that help/care arrives. that training will also help you build out your kit with stuff that's useful and help you avoid carrying stuff that's not so necessary.

satellite devices are probably a good idea if cell reception is problematic. IMO, a sat phone is a better choice if you're really out far and for a longer period of time (esp multi-day trips). sat messengers seem good if you need the ability to do a little 2-way communication along with having an SOS feature to light a fire under emergency response. a true PLB being for emergency response only (and being the best at it).

I'm leaning more towards the messenger side for my uses. the messenger function is handy for non-emergency comms when cell reception sucks. would make me a little more comfortable doing solo stuff in the more remote areas nearby.
Thanks Harold.

Zero cell reception in the places I am talking about. Extremely rare to see any human life form on these rides. Extremely rare not to see wildlife of some sort (almost always benign - deer, partridge, etc).

I need to find a course along the lines you have suggested, and I need to pick up a sat phone.

Thanks again.

PS - heading back to Bragg now, for a nice, safe, people filled ride with my daughter. Next weekend though we will be hitting some remote ridge rides, to take advantage of the changing fall colours. I need to get my $hit together as much as I can, before next weekend arrives. .
 

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I have a SPOT tracker that I can take into the backcountry with me. It has an SOS button that works when there's no cell service. I can also send pre programmed messages to my wife when there's no cell service. So when I make it safely through the day and am setting up camp, I can send a message saying that I made it through the day alright. She can also watch my tracking to see where I'm at in the event of a non emergency pickup. Its nice having a unit I can reliably use for emergencies in the backcountry that also keeps my wife from worrying.

I believe the unit I bought was $100 and the subscription is $11/mo. You could snag one of those and teach your daughter when and how to use the SOS button.

I ended up getting one after my daughter and I had to be airboat rescued out of a river canyon. I realized that as often as I do stuff like that solo, I'd be 100% screwed if I were in a situation like that when I was alone.
 

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I need to find a course along the lines you have suggested, and I need to pick up a sat phone.
Looks like the Canadian course for this is called "Wilderness Advanced First Aid" whereas in the US it's usually called "Wilderness First Aid". I have my WFA, and considering upgrading to Wilderness First Responder this winter. The training to clear someone from a possible concussion in the WFR course is pretty handy for riding. Especially since I've begun guiding. Sometimes I'm out with another guide that has it, but sometimes both of us top out at WFA.
 

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I use a Garmin inreach mini. I like the 2 way texting. I can let me know people I will be late and know they get the message. They can reach me if I need to come back early. The only issue is if there is a lot of tree cover, it has a hard time getting a signal out if you are moving.
 

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I had to be rescued off the mountain I ride usually back in May. I washed out my front end and landed on a rock and broke my hip. I had people with me but none of us could get cell coverage so four peeps hiked up the hill until one got service and called. He was able to yell to the others he had gotten through, voices travel in canyons. If I had a satellite phone to go with my Garmin computer it would have knocked off 30-45 minutes of laying in pain on the trail. I think a satellite link is definitely an important tool in the back country. We really were not far from cell service but another mile or two in and the time really adds up.
the other thing is pain pills. One of the guys I was with had an oxycodone pill which helped a ton. I have pills left over from my ordeal and now I always have them with me on a ride.
having a lite jacket is a big help too. It gets cold at night and when you are hurt that cold is even worse. As soon as the sun set I started to get very cold and a jacket over me helped big time.
 

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My son lives in Alaska and often goes on 1 or 2 week long remote "outings" - sometimes with my local son who often visits him.
He has a Sat phone and checks in with us daily with his Lat Long. My wife and I follow him on Google Earth and have a set of procedures in place should something go wrong, including a color coded (green, yellow, red) system, should communications become spotty. We also have an accurate route and timeline that we can reference.
That might be overkill, for a 3 hour ride, though!
But, maybe not!
Anyway, a large yard debris garbage bag takes up almost no room, keeps you dry, covers almost the full length of your body and folds up really small. Waterproof matches also take up no space. And a whistle is something I add in, in the winter especially, when back country skiing. A doctor friend told me that once dehydration becomes profound, the vocal chords are pretty much inop.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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I bring a 406mhz PLB on most rides. This is what aircraft carry, it's a GPS beacon that transmits to the NOAA S&R satellite and it includes a terminal homing beacon (for the helicopter, etc.). It's often the terminal stuff that causes a lot of headache for S&R. But back to the main point, this goes directly to the Regional Search and Rescue coordination center. No 3rd parties. No subscriptions. Directly to the agency who will organize a rescue effort.

I have an in-reach mini I use for a few other things, but my primary is the 406. A couple other reasons are watts, spot is .5, in-reach is 1.4, 406mhz is 5. That helps to guarantee you will transmit. It's an on/off thing though, so you only use it if you really need rescue.

I also carry this for myself as much as if I find someone else on the trail that needs evac.

The best rescue is self-rescue. To that extent you do things like take wilderness first-aid (I have) and survival. There's a huge difference between being in danger and being uncomfortable in the conditions. Having to spend the night might be extremely uncomfortable, but hopefully you have the gear to make it that and not dangerous. WFA and survival was about realizing in what situations people need evac vs. what situations are survivable. Lots of little things like having a lighter, packable jackets, thinking about the temps, having the appropriate clothing gear, food, etc. You don't need to bog down your ride and packs, it doesn't take much, but it does take a little bit of thought.
 

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The place to ride in the back country in BC is the Chilcotins. Absolutely amazing riding, hundreds of kms of quality single track, incredible views and ridiculously remote. I have ridden there a couple of times and was really not sufficiently prepared. Some sort of SAT phone or in-reach device should be with you or at least one of you in your party. Even for a simple thing like a ride ending mechanical. A 100km walk takes a long time!
 

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I had a friend do a slow motion tipover on a switchback several years ago landing on the only rock in the vicinity and breaking the top off his femur. We were in a pretty deep canyon, so one rider stayed with him and I climbed a few miles back above timberline where I could get a signal and was able to get his GPS coordinates to a SAR ground crew and a chopper and then show both to the site of the accident. We just kept him warm and still until they were able to get him back above timberline to the chopper on a 1-wheel litter. We then strapped his bike and wheels to our pack and rode 10 miles back to the car.
Since I am doing more remote solo rides lately my wife got me an InReach Mini for Christmas and I have been carrying that along with the emergency bivvy, first aid, chemical handwarmers, extra food, map, compass, water proof matches, etc.
 

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I had to be rescued off the mountain I ride usually back in May. I washed out my front end and landed on a rock and broke my hip. I had people with me but none of us could get cell coverage so four peeps hiked up the hill until one got service and called. He was able to yell to the others he had gotten through, voices travel in canyons. If I had a satellite phone to go with my Garmin computer it would have knocked off 30-45 minutes of laying in pain on the trail. I think a satellite link is definitely an important tool in the back country. We really were not far from cell service but another mile or two in and the time really adds up.
the other thing is pain pills. One of the guys I was with had an oxycodone pill which helped a ton. I have pills left over from my ordeal and now I always have them with me on a ride.
having a lite jacket is a big help too. It gets cold at night and when you are hurt that cold is even worse. As soon as the sun set I started to get very cold and a jacket over me helped big time.
I had a friend do a slow motion tipover on a switchback several years ago landing on the only rock in the vicinity and breaking the top off his femur. We were in a pretty deep canyon, so one rider stayed with him and I climbed a few miles back above timberline where I could get a signal and was able to get his GPS coordinates to a SAR ground crew and a chopper and then show both to the site of the accident. We just kept him warm and still until they were able to get him back above timberline to the chopper on a 1-wheel litter. We then strapped his bike and wheels to our pack and rode 10 miles back to the car.
Since I am doing more remote solo rides lately my wife got me an InReach Mini for Christmas and I have been carrying that along with the emergency bivvy, first aid, chemical handwarmers, extra food, map, compass, water proof matches, etc.
Uh... I'm assuming you two know each other?
 

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I've witnessed this type of pick-off rescue in Zion NP, specifically in the Left Fork of North Creek, AKA "The Subway". Exiting canyoneers noted that a woman had broken her ankle up-canyon (we were doing an in-N-out that instance, not a thru). Suffice it to say that given the route was almost entirely scrambling... a pick-off rescue was necessary. We saw the helicopter coming down the canyon, and noted that the woman got what was probably the most expensive (and probably spectacular) e-ticket ride. We were just surprised they didn't gain a large amount of altitude to completely clear the canyon. I'm sure they were actually clear, but from the perspective of looking out from inside the canyon, she was getting a Death Star trench run in a basket.

When my concern was that of backcountry pursuits involving verticality and/or constrained skies, the best (theoretically speaking) solution was a 406Mhz PLB for its significantly higher-orbit satellites and much-stronger (>10X) broadcast power. The lack of a service fee was the cherry-on-top-of-the-sundae for something that at-best I would need for several trips each year. It also helped that Aron Ralston became a spokesperson for ACR; his situation might be a bit outlandish to envision, but being fully-trapped in a technical canyon was something me and my partner had personally experienced. But the unspoken assumption was that these pursuits always involved a partner (disregarding Ralston's aberration), if not a team; incapacitation to where nobody was left to trigger an SOS was either unlikely, or rendered rescue moot (i.e. that we were all dead). Yes, I admit that I was too young and cavalier to give nearly enough due consideration to the facilitation of victim recovery. The added factor was that my partner already had a Spot (for his MTBing, which I will talk about next). The PLB nevertheless remains a very useful lifeline for activities for which these strengths remain valid, which is why I keep my ACR ResQlink registered and dealer-serviced... and will probably update with a newer model by the time I need the next service.

However, the pandemic brought me back to frontcountry pursuits (i.e. MTB) where through frequency you end up with a session mentality (as opposed to the project/expedition mentality of less-frequent, more-technical pursuits), and solo rides/runs are quite normal. This reveals the weakness of the 406Mhz PLB, which is that it is purely a unidirectional signaling device. We also had a recent instance that I've talked about (ad nausuem perhaps) where a local trail runner disappeared and died, most likely because he had a heat-induced medical emergency that compromised both physical and mental faculties. There is no way for a 406Mhz PLB to be "pinged" nor queried by SAR/family/friends for location or confirmation-of-well-being due to its nature of being an unidirectional signaling device. It also does nothing for victim recovery if you went too quick to trigger an SOS. This is something I gained new-appreciation-for given the pain that I was able to see the family of that missing runner endure for almost a month. Things gain new weight going from merely knowing... to seeing, if only second-hand.

My old canyon partner was originally part of my little SoCal riding posse of 4 guys who rode together for a decade. He sheepishly had justified the Spot device as something for his wife to keep track of him on our hairier adventures. In retrospect, I think he actually chose quite correctly for the majority of what we did, which was riding.

This is why I have recently acquired a Garmin InReach Mini. I think bi-directional satellite messengers are on-balance the better choice when solo rides/runs/hikes are part of the usage mix, and where velocity sports increases the potential for personal incapacitation.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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remeber satalite stuff does not work good in canyons. you do need a clear line of sight to the sky. I had a spot and moved onto an inreach explorer.
Not nearly the problem it used to be, now with 3 different constellations and many more satellites on each of them, the masking issue is far less prevalent. This is however where the wattage of your device may be more important, to penetrate through tree cover and clouds better...but again, generally not a big issue anymore.
 
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Not nearly the problem it used to be, now with 3 different constellations and many more satellites on each of them, the masking issue is far less prevalent. This is however where the wattage of your device may be more important, to penetrate through tree cover and clouds better...but again, generally not a big issue anymore.
This does bring up one last thing:

A 406Mhz PLB shoots its big wad (continuously for many hours), but you will never know if the signal actually made its way to the satellite until (if?) SAR shows up. You just have to take it on faith that it did, from where ever you made your broadcast, which might not be from terrain of your choosing. Again, it is an unidirectional device.

An Iridium/GlobalStar satellite messenger will shoot its small wads until the satellite shoots back confirmation that the SOS/message/cookie recipe was received. If you are not trapped or physically-incapacitated, you could try signaling from different terrain until you get a confirmation.

I would be lying if I told you which I know to be the better approach.

One thing that the satellite messenger does enable is a kind of accidental/panicked misuse, which manifested as the tragic death of Kate Matrosova. Granted, it was a Spot device, which was considerably more limited than the Garmin InReach devices (and others) that can confirm message receipt. So with all SOS situations, especially with a device that can confirm that your SOS was received... STAY PUT.
 
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