Amateur radio operators help save four lives

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Just a month after practicing emergency communications skills, members of the Northern Southeast Amateur Radio Emergency Services and Juneau Amateur Radio Club helped rescue a fellow ham operator.

Mark Griffith, 21, and three friends, were rafting down the swollen Herbert River on Sunday when their raft overturned, stranding them on an island. Griffith used a phone patch through the Lena Point repeater to call 911. The 911 operator, Nick Meacher, by coincidence the ARES emergency coordinator, alerted search and rescue personnel.

In the meantime, Bob Dewey heard Griffith's transmission and set out for the trailhead. Dewey kept in touch with Griffith on a simplex frequency, allowing direct communication with search and rescue teams.

During the rainy night, Dewey provided Griffith with regular updates. Bob Simpson, Glenn Sicks, and Brent Fischer also maintained a listening watch. The quartet was safely rescued by Coast Guard helicopter about 7 a.m. Monday.

"Had it not been for the radio, no one would have raised the alarm until 9 p.m., (because) we told them not to worry about 9 p.m.," Griffith said.

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