View Full Version : How to Locate a Hiker in Case of Emergency
One of the subjects I haven't seen come up this year is how to locate a hiker in case of an emergency. Many of us have aging parents, siblings who have major medical problems, or other issues where it would be important for some one at home to locate us in case of an emergency. It seems to happen to hikers every year. What's the best way for your "ground control" person to locate or contact a hiker in case there is an emergency at home?
I'm assuming that the hiker isn't carrying a cell phone. Then, the best way is for the hiker to leave a "baseline" schedule with ground control, and to call ground control every opportunity and check in, and update the progress.
I had the same concerns, and that's what worked for me. I didn't call every day, but I did call probably every 3 to 5 days. By checking in frequently, ground control knew which road crossings and towns I was between, and thus could nail down where I was fairly close.
In '01 our plan was to have our groud control call the ATC and then one of the ridgerunners could find you within a a day or so if you were signing-in at trail registers (name,date and dircetion). You should call the ATC to find out what their poilcy is for this season.
The ATC is not in the business of finding missing hikers. You are responsible for yourself. If this is a problem stay near a phone.
Nobody said a word about "missing hikers" or not being responsible for one's self. In fact, for those of us with familes, knowing how to get in contact with someone in case of an emergency is BEING responsible.
What I meant was, you and you alone, are responsible to check in with your support people every chance you get. There is simply no way for an outside agency to get to you, short of sending a former thru to quess a place ahead of your last position and hiking toward you. Even then if you went off to defecate, they could easily miss you. Prior to this you could have sent Sargent Preston of the Mounties, but he just died.
First off always sign registers with dates and your name and/or trail name. Call home every town you're in and let family know where you're at. If there's an emergency at home, death or serious injury to a family member, have family call the ATC and talk to Laurie. Have them tell her your real name, trail name, and last town/area you called from. She in turn can call an AT club member/maintainer in that area who will glady institute a search. It's pretty easy to find someone on the trail.
And Blue Jay, your attitude sucks. People call the ATC all the time with rediculously stupid questions, wasting the ATCs time. Calling for an emergency ISN'T a waste of time. One year my brother commited suicide and another year my dad was in a serious wreck. Finding a hiker in the way I described works.
Reread my post Mr. Wolf, I never said it was a waste of time. Since the ATC contacted you in both of these emergencies, I stand corrected. I never doubted that the ATC would attempt to contact a hiker, just that they would be able to do so. How did they find you?
I still believe it is irresponsible to depend on outside agencies such as volunteer organizations (like the ATC), government agencies, trial angels or divine providence to communicate between a hiker and his or her family, at any time and most certainly, in the event of an emergency. That responsibility lies with you alone. If the ATC has had to track you down more than once it may be time to stay home. I am honored you feel that my attitude is bad, it is like Bill Clinton thinking I'm a ****.
OK, how about loose sexual morals.
Lone Wolf's method will work. That's what I done on my section hike in Virginia. I left a tentative schedule with my wife and the ATC phone number. When I got to a phone, I called home so my wife could adjust my "whereabouts" as needed. The ATC has other things to do but they will not hesitate to try to help if there is an emergency. Or at least that's been my experience.
I talked with a Trail Runner in Georgia at the Len Foote Hike Inn and asked him specifically about finding people along the trail in an emergency. He said about the same thing Lone Wolf said, leave a schedule of some kind at home, sign the trail registers, and introduce yourself to people you meet along the trail. The Trail Runners have a good chain of communication along the trail. He felt like it was part of his responsibility to find a hiker if the need arose.
On a side note about calling home, it helped both of us to hear from the other but it sure made me homesick! Absence makes the heart grow fonder is true from my experience.