Rescue Reflections

Patient and his son waiting in the rain and cold for rescue. See PLB also activated. Emergency blankets used.

Recently, I aided an injured man in the Richmond Ranges, while hiking the Te Araroa trail. He had no emergency device, so I used my Garmin InReach mini, aligned with TrackMe to request help for him. I also used my PLB although in this case, the InReach/ Trackme device would have been sufficient.

I was commended for my preparation, organisation and for doing the right thing and doing it right. On reflection, there is much for me and perhaps others, to learn from this experience.

My reflections

1. STOP:  Stop; Think; consider Options; make a Plan. I had rehearsed and rehearsed possibilities for this strategic acronym in my preparation but when reality hit, STOP evaporated from my mind as I launched into action.

In hindsight, I made some good decisions but how much better, if I’d just stopped, thought, considered options and made a plan.

2. Technology is not fool proof: Two days before this mishap, my iPhone had gone on the blink.

Consequently, and I don’t know why but I needed to re-sign into Garmin Explore, useful for typing/ receiving messages on my phone, not directly onto the InReach mini.  Without wifi access, this wasn’t possible. In retrospect, I should have taken the time to master the inReach device directly, for sending and receiving messages.

3. Take care of yourself: I was busy. Rescuing, administering first aid, warming the patient, initiating a rescue and responding to inReach messages. I didn’t look out for myself. Prone to getting cold, I suddenly found myself shivering uncontrollably. An extra layer, and my emergency blanket helped somewhat but I wasn’t thinking clearly. I was reluctant to use my other dry clothing, knowing I’d be needing them later. Once again, in hindsight, I could have made better decisions for myself.

4. Know the rescue team will look out for you too: Perhaps it was naive, but I assumed that after the rescue, I would be left to find my own way back to the hut or to move on. I was wrong. RCCNZ and Tony Glentworth/TrackMe were never going to let that happen. I was offered and accepted a helicopter ride out and again, in hindsight this was wise.

Based on my response over the next days, I’m not sure it would have been safe to continue immediately.

5. Forgive yourself: No one is perfect. Mistakes are made. Post-event, although it wasn’t my accident, my mind went into overdrive, like a tape on repeat. The ‘what if’ game began.

I oscillated between pride, disappointment, annoyance, frustration, loss of confidence, and stayed on repeat for several days. It passes.

A man can go home to his family due to the incredible rescue services provided for the New Zealand outdoors and I was able to contribute to that.

6. TrackMe is the way to go:  I contacted TrackMe months ago, as part of my outdoor preparation.

The personalised service, from providing rationale for using a NZ-based company, the set-up support, and the during and after rescue services are beyond compare. I am a committed client.

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