Posted: 12/22/2013 08:22:48 PM MST
On a cold, bitter night earlier this month, the actions of a Good Samaritan and a ham radio probably saved the lives of a family.
“Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service in which licensed Amateur Radio operators (hams) operate communications equipment,” ham operator Amanda Alden said. “There are about 750,000 licensed operators in the U.S.”
It began at about 7 p.m. Dec. 6 when Cody Fowler and his wife, Tina, and their two sons, Jacob and Timmy, were on their way home from Pueblo.
“They were on their last leg of their journey, about four to six miles south of (U.S.) 50 on Copper Gulch Road, when Cody noticed the vehicle behind them was no longer (in sight),” said Alden in a press release.
Because of the bitter cold temperatures and the icy roads, Cody turned around and drove back down the road, where he discovered that a red SUV had slid off into a ditch. The five people in the car had climbed back onto the road.
“Cody could tell there were possibly serious injuries,” Alden said.
But no one in the car had a cell phone because the Fowler family had just purchased new ones in Pueblo. None of them were charged or activated and they could not call 911. At that point, Cody grabbed his son’s ham radio and got through to others on the line, telling them he had ran across an accident and needed someone to call 911.
That’s when Alden stepped in. Known with the sign call K1DDN, she notified dispatch. With her cell phone in one hand and the ham radio in the other, she kept in touch with both sides to alert them of what was going on.
“Cody said when he got there, it was about 1 below. When he left, it was 10 below (zero),” Alden said. “He was in his shrubs from work in Pueblo. He put on the blizzard suit to stay warm, but he didn’t have any gloves so he was kind of suffering to stay warm.”
In the Fowler vehicle, there was only one spot available for the family in the wrecked vehicle, so they took turns sitting in the Fowler vehicle to get warm. The family consisted of three teenagers, an adult male and an adult female.
During the course of the evening, two vehicles stopped to help, then 40 minutes later, Colorado State Patrol arrived on scene, followed by Deer Mountain Fire & Rescue and Fremont County Sheriff, Alden said.
It could have been another 30 minutes before someone might have arrived on scene.
“The victims would have had to endure extreme temperatures waiting for emergency services to arrive,” Cody said in the release.
Two of the family members were taken to the hospital and the Fowlers took one of them home.
With all the modern technology available in the world today, things might have turned out differently if the Fowlers had not owned a ham radio.
Although people try to compare to CBs, it’s more technical than that, she said. The operators have to take tests and are issued a call sign by the Federal Communications Commission to operate on radio frequencies known as “Amateur Bands.” The bands are reserved by FCC for use by ham radio operations, said Alden, who has helped with other emergencies, including the Waldo Canyon fire and Royal Gorge fire.
“But (I’ve) never (been involved) in a critical time frame such as a car accident,” she said.