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Never assume... (was) RE: [at-l] Whites Incident & Cell Phone

No equipment will help you in an emergency unless you are prepared to use it

I can call 911 from my office and they will be here soon.  Partly because my
phone uses land based lines instead of the air; which makes it easier to use
and to trace.  Partly because -- even though they ask for my address -- my
phone number has an address they can find or that shows up. But I still give
them all the info they need.  I never assume anything.

Also miscommunications can be a big factor.  Never assume that the people on
the other end will know what you mean.  On Court TV yesterday, they pointed
out a case in which the directions "Go to the Point" meant something that
only the suspect or someone very local would have understood.  And my close
friend Wendy often gets on me because I assume she knows exactly what I am
talking about.  In an emergency, talk slowly, plainly, and as if the person
on the other end is 5 year old child who has just been in America for a few
months, and preferrably a child whose I.Q. is a bit low. No offense meant to
anyone, but never assume that the person on the other end is as bright as
you, or that you are making sense.  Never assume anything.

A friend's daughter used a cell phone to call her auto club's emergency
number.  She gave the info she thought would help.  Then she "hung up" when
she saw her toddler about to wander into the woods.  She waited and waited
and waited.  And waited some more.  She gave the address as River Road about
3 miles south of Pappy Jack's (or something like that).  I would have been
as stumped as the tow truck driver.  Lots of roads in that area, but none
called River Road except to the locals.  And Pappy Jack's had no sign, and
in the phone book it was listed by Pappy Jack's last name.  Never assume

Once I participated in a fire emergency using a pay-phone.  I gave the
street address.  The nearest buildings including the most prominent land
marks.  The people standing outside and what they had on.  And all other
facts that would help locate the store -- it was late night and downtown was
dead.  I even gave my name, home address, and work phone number.  They were
there almost before I could tell the people from the store what I had done.
I did not assume anything -- including the fact that the store was a
landmark for many people across the state.  The lady on the other end did
not recognize the store's name and asked if there were any flamables in the
store.  Anyone who knew the store would realize that there was if you count
lots of newspapers and magazines and books as flamable.  Never assume

Granted that there are emergencies you cannot prepare for or would even
think about -- what do you do if a moose wants you for a love mate?  And
some you are not going to survive -- getting landed on by a meteor that
weighs several tons. But if you get in the proper mind set you are more
likely to survive than if you just assume that help will get to you.  Never
assume anything.

But, too many people today go in for "extreme" sports, etc., and expect that
they are guarenteed the God give, inalienable right to "Safe" extreme
sports, etc.  Never assume that you are safe.

Sorry for my rant.  But I have a young friend who recently went car surfing.
Got a big gash in his leg.  It could have been worse.  The gash was caused
by a hood ornament and the gash was high and on the inside of the leg.  On
the other hand I did the same thing when I was about his age: No gash.  I
landed in soft sand and almost on head and my shoulder.

William, The Turtle
-----Original Message-----
From: RoksnRoots@aol.com [mailto:RoksnRoots@aol.com]
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2002 1:27 AM
To: AT-L@backcountry.net
Subject: [at-l] Whites Incident & Cell Phone

[ Picked text/plain from multipart/alternative ]

    Perhaps it's a little early for such, but it struck me that the
involvement of the Whites hypothermia victim with cell phone rescue should

     If I read the report correctly, the victim called in a rescue request
for himself by cell phone and was waiting for rescuers.

     After reading the story it struck me later that this man was possibly
slackpacking the Whites hut to hut only carrying minimal gear and a phone.
The report said he had no pack when he was found.

     I feel it important since this brings up several very serious issues
regarding cell phone dependency on the AT for safety.

     If this victim had deliberately forsaken extra gear in order to
slackpack the Whites hut to hut, in order to save time and energy in an
injured state, he had probably brought the cell phone as a hedge against

     If this proves to be the case, it would have dire ramifications for
phone use. It would mean the victim chose to bring a useless piece of gear
instead of more critical types.

     If the victim was relying on the cell phone to bail him out, it turned
out it failed to do so. Reports were scratchy on how well he communicated
situation to Camp Dodge. As reported, this communication was useless to his
predicament and did not help save his life. The rescue occurred from nearby
help and was too late.

    If Camp Dodge was successfully contacted by the still-conscious victim
failed to alert the Madison crew only a few thousand feet away. In this
interim the victim fell below the point of recovery. This incident has
several gaping failures, some of which directly involve cell phones, or
possible false confidence in them, that should be reviewed.

     Though the tragedy was probably mostly age and exhaustion related, I
believe this incident leaves open the possibility that this death occurred
least partly because of bad reliance on a cell phone as gear.