Responding to a Distress Ham Radio Call
“Mayday, mayday, mayday, this is Justin calling from Mogollon Baldy in Gila Wilderness, we are under attack”.
Those are the words that came buzzing in my ham radio just a few minutes after turning on. The sound of the caller was so hoarse like somebody in great pain or danger. Immediately, I became concerned and wanted to know more about the nature of the emergency and the type of assistance required; this is something every ham enthusiast looks forward to – to help. But I hadn’t gotten the address nor was I familiar with the place of the distress call.
“VE2BUC listening”, I immediately responded on my mic as I waited for more information. I listened for a minute but all was quiet. Something in me told me that whoever was calling was in grave danger.
“VE2BUC is monitoring and listening to you calls”. I added after some moments of quietness. Two minutes went by and still, there was no response.
“This is Sam in from Tamaulipas, are you still there, I’m here to help”, I yelled on the mic of my ham radio after listening for two minutes without any response. I awaited another minute as I grabbed my laptop and did a quick search on Mogollon Baldy.
The search I did was enough to make me conclude that whoever was calling was on the remote parts of New Mexico and most probably under attack from wild predators which dominate the great Gila Wilderness.
Contacting Response Team for Help
I knew that the best I could do to help was to make a call to the relevant authorities. I grabbed my phone and as I was dialing 911, my ham radio buzzed again.
“VE2BUC, this is W2AXN from California returning. Did you too hear the distress call? My name is Paul. Back to you. W2AXN.”
I didn’t even wait for the repeater song before responding but went ahead to talk with Paul about the distress call and the search that I had conducted about Gila Wilderness.
Paul told me that he knew about a marine friend who could be of great help and he was going to call him for assistance. He then told me to go ahead and call 911, in case they could be of immediate help.
I called 911 and talked to them about the situation. Since I didn’t have the coordinates of the location of the distress call nor the nature of the help required, I somehow felt that I sounded vague and unconvincing, so I had this fear that whoever was in danger may fail to get help immediately.
Luckily, the responder of the emergency call that I made came from New Mexico and knew the region better. They told me that they would get back at me.
That evening, it was heard for me to get sleep as I waited for the distress caller to respond or for Paul to update me about what transpires. No information came.
In the morning I was still sleepy and was awoken by a call from Paul. He told me that during the night a search party was launched in the region and it took almost four hours before they spotted the caller in distress. They were three hikers who were hiking but were attacked by a pack of wolves and one of them was seriously injured but managed to get medical attention early when the search party found them, and hence she was stabilizing.
I felt glad that at least I had tried to help and it was not in vain.