Posted on May 3, 2018 by Jay
A casual trip through the Lost Coast with a group of 10. Surely a beacon is just dead weight for a group of this size? Well, I threw it in the pack anyway. Turns out this was a wise decision as one of the minors in our party managed to splash white gas on himself near an open flame. This resulted in melted shorts and second degree burns on over 30% of his legs.
Stop, Drop, and Roll worked well to put out the flame, but the wounds ended up including a healthy dose of sand along with the melted nylon. After assessing the severity of the situation, I activated my beacon. One of our party sprinted up the nearby ridge line hoping for cell service to no avail. Most of us were consumed by the task of filtering water from the nearby stream to help cool his legs and manage the pain. (Camping 100 yards from a stream doesn’t seem all that far until lap 20 or so.)
A few hours later after the shock subsided, we moved him into a tent for the night. In the morning, a Bureau of Land Management ranger showed up around breakfast and radioed for a California Highway Patrol helicopter, preventing us from having to make other plans. (Given the tide schedule, we were killing time in camp before making any further decisions.) A quick word of warning: make sure you trust your emergency contacts listed on your beacon registration. The details of a rescue get quite muddy. You want to ensure someone you know is sorting through them. The Humboldt County sheriff’s department had convinced itself that my beacon was a false alarm. Since it was not their jurisdiction, the Coast Guard did not get directly involved despite being the most on top of the information gathering. My mom ended up passing more information between the various agencies than would have been ideal. Eventually, everyone was on the same page and SAR was actually initiated. Once deployed, the BLM ranger coordinating with a CHP helicopter were a great team.
Words of wisdom
No matter how many are in your party – bring a beacon,
and make sure you trust your emergency contacts listed on your beacon registration.
Thank you note
Thank you ACR!
Local Search and Rescue
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