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ACR Personal Locator Beacon Assists Injured ATV Adventurer Following Accident in Utah

Name Fred Taylor
Product Name ACR MicroFix PLB
Date of Rescue 11/18/2010
Saved By Moab, Utah Search & Rescue
Lives Saved 1

The day started out as any other day. Jonalyn, Dale, baby Finn and Mina and I were in Moab, Utah for a four day ATV and outdoorsing vacation. After a morning hike and lunch, Dale and I took off for some ATVing to a trail called Finns and Things, which was nearby. I rode our two-seater ATV that weighs about 700 lbs. After 15-20 minutes of riding we came to Hell's Revenge trail. Because my red bombardier has a longer wheelbase I decided to ride down it, which I did successfully, although I got a little bit of air on the back tires while doing it. When we went around the exit of Hell's Revenge, Dale stood aside to film it. I never have been quite as confident with ATV's as with the Jeep, due to the small wheelbase and narrow width. As with most accidents, you are able to look back afterwards and think, "That was really stupid." I should have connected my winch to Dale's winch on top, so if the ATV did topple backwards, the winch might have stopped me from rolling all the way over. I had already pushed my weight as far forward to keep the front end down, but the ATV has so much power it didn't take much throttle to lift the front end up. As I ascended, it lifted on the right tire and tipped over on top of me as it fell backwards.

When things like this happen, it's a blur and hard to recollect exactly what took place. I knew as it came down on top of me that something had messed up my hips. And, when the vehicle stopped moving, my helmet was pinned between the ATV and the rocks and I could tell the strength in my legs was gone. I yelled, "GET THIS THING OFF OF ME!" twice and Dale was there in just a moment. My concern was that it would continue to slide down the slope and drag me with it. Not having any leg strength, I would be helpless to stop it, since my head was pinned and legs were not working.

Dale hit the kill switch and then was able to brace his legs against the ATV and give me freedom to release one arm. I had to get my free arm underneath the helmet chinstrap. With a couple of more heaves, Dale was able to give me more room and I unhooked the strap to get the helmet off. Now I could see better and talk to Dale about what kind of angle to get so I could pull myself out. The only direction I could go was downhill. Fear and adrenalin are tremendous motivators, and I was able to use my arms to pull myself out from under the ATV. My concern was that Dale needed to call or get help, but if he let go, the ATV could slide down, so I had to crawl and slide myself downwards. I had to turn myself around so I would scoot downhill feet first by pushing with my elbows and wrists. When I got to the bottom, the rock turned to sand, so it was harder going. I had given myself a tremendous wedgie with all that scooting, but that was the least of my worries. Dale felt the ATV was secure enough that he could let it go for awhile and grabbed my left leg, which seemed to have less damage, and to help pull me through the sand and off the trail in the event the ATV broke loose.

The accident occurred late in the afternoon and it was beginning to get dark. I was laying facedown in a sand patch. I had a brand new pair of ATV overalls and a wool sweater, so I knew I had some insulation, but I could feel the cold and I knew that shock would be something I would have to control. So, I kept taking deep breaths and of course I was conversing with The Lord at the time. The sand was damp and I started to feel the dampness come through on my legs. I told Dale where he could find a light on my ATV and where my ACR MicroFix™ PLB was located. When it was dark, having even a little bit of light can lift your spirits. Dale got several of the "crack and shake" emergency lights out as well as the headlamp and new flashlight that Philip (my other son-in-law) bought me for Christmas. My son, Jacob, foresaw that I might someday need an emergency beacon and purchased an ACR MicroFix™ to carry on my outdoor adventures. I held the PLB in one hand, extended the antenna and pushed the button to call for help.

The signal gave emergency rescue teams the exact coordinates where I was laying. To fight off the shock possibilities, I asked Dale to tell me a story to keep my mind off of what was going on. Dale is an expert storyteller and began to tell me his version of "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," which he knew from memory. It really helped a lot. Eventually (within an hour-and-a-half of the PLB activation), we heard ATV engines and people started showing up. Because I was chilled, Dale loaned me his coat and EMT personnel from a volunteer Moab SAR team brought a sleeping bag to lay atop me. They started their assessment of my injuries and in short order, shot me up with painkillers. I was still in great discomfort and it wasn't very long before I heard a helicopter coming. They rolled me over and I felt my hips popping and scraping bone against bone internally as I had felt when I was sliding down the hill. I was strapped to a board and they had trouble getting my tall frame into the door of the helicopter. Things at this point are a little sketchy.

I don't think I lost consciousness, but I don't remember details of the flight to Grand Junction. I recall one individual talking with me on the flight with some words of comfort and once in the emergency room I remember another individual took my head in his hands and made eye contact with me and let me know what was going on. He also told me that they had a training crew in the ER, so there would be twice as many people in the room as usual. Initially, the x-rays were extremely painful because they would roll me from side to side. They did a full CT scan to look for internal injuries as well, and fortunately, though I had four fractures of my pelvis, there was no perforation of the intestines. It was decided that my pelvis injuries were beyond what the hospital in Grand Junction wanted to work with, so after a night and day in ICU, I was airlifted to the trauma center in Denver. I stayed there for six more days and then was again airlifted to my home in Whittier, California where I was hospitalized for another two weeks before being released to recover at home. 

Epilogue from Fred: Back on his feet and walking without pain, Fred and a group of eight JEEPers are planning a trip to the remote Arizona Strip, north of the Colorado River for a seven-day excursion starting on April 16th. He will be carrying his newly purchased ACR SARlink™ PLB.