Grizzly attack, September 6, 2015
“It’s right behind you!” Those fateful words were the last thing paramedic Chris Eyre heard his best friend Robbie yell, before spinning around to see a grizzly and two cubs bearing down on him in a full gallop. A second later she had Chris’ head in her mouth and for several terrifying moments began shaking him. In a defensive posture trying to protect his head with his arm, Chris felt the flesh being torn from his face.
“It was the most terrifying moment of my life,” recalls Chris, “she was intent on killing me. Robbie was running toward me with his rifle, yelling at the bear. Somewhere along the way his clip fell out and he had to run back. The bear stopped attacking me and went after him.” Chris activated the SOS button on his inReach, grabbed his rifle and went to help Robbie.
They were deep in the backcountry, 11 hours by horseback and another two hour drive from the nearest town, and badly injured. Despite a fractured skull, broken rib, and a lot of damage to his left arm, chest, leg and hip, Chris’ paramedic training took over. Robbie had suffered a traumatic stroke as a result of the many bites and lacerations and a puncture wound to his neck, and he was going into shock. Chris got their situation stabilized, then began communicating their injuries to the search and rescue response center and his boss at the BC Ambulance service, using his inReach.
The first helicopters arrived with paramedics, a conservation officer, and police who along with the pilots cared for them until they could be extracted by the Comox 442 long line rescue helicopter in the morning. The agonizing wait was made a bit more bearable by the continuous updates they were able to receive from family and rescue coordinators.
“We owe our lives to the inReach device, my colleagues and everyone that came to our rescue. Words can’t express how grateful we are,” says Chris. So grateful in fact that they started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds to support search and rescue while they recover from their injuries.
Andrew Wallwork saves a fellow hiker while out in the BC backcountry
Andrew Wallwork never imagined that he’d use the SOS button on his inReach device the very first time he took it into the BC backcountry. Having just purchased it for his Scout group, Andrew took inReach along on a personal trip into Manning Park to get familiar with its features. About 25 kilometers from the nearest trailhead, inReach proved invaluable when a fellow hiker sprained his ankle on challenging terrain.
Unable to walk out, Andrew used the SOS button to notify GEOS that while the injury was not life threatening, they’d need assistance to get his friend out. Using two-way messaging, Andrew was able to share the location of a nearby helicopter landing zone, send updates to reassure concerned friends and family, and make direct contact with the SAR team that was being dispatched to help. At first light, the rescue helicopter arrived and evacuated everyone safely. The injured hiker was treated at the hospital and has since fully recovered.
“The two-way capability of inReach made a huge difference over our previous one-way device and helped calm nerves both in the field and back at home,” Andrew explains. “The Park Rangers and the SAR team that responded were impressed that they were able to know the exact nature of the injury and our location. I was told that it was the first inReach triggered rescue in Manning Park!”
Kite boarder Jeff rescued after being stranded on the Atlantic Ocean
The wind and weather were perfect when distance kite boarder Jeff and his team decided to take on a grueling challenge — a 170 km kite surfing run from Antigua to St Marteen without touching land. The run went without a hitch and was completed in a record-setting six hours. Later that evening, their support boat began taking on water and when those onboard could no longer keep up with the inflow, it flipped over in rough seas. Within minutes, the four-person team was left stranded on a tiny lifeboat.
Luckily, Jeff had strapped his inReach to his backpack and was able to initiate an SOS call. They soon received confirmation that both a helicopter and a rescue boat were on their way. The rescue teams used the GPS coordinates embedded in all of Jeff’s messages to locate the raft, and two-way messaging to stay in contact with Jeff and his support crew throughout the rescue.
While waiting to be found, Jeff was able to reassure his friends back home who had been following their trip through live updates on Jeff’s Mapshare page. “Being able to exchange messages while sitting in a water-filled raft in the complete darkness was incredible,” Jeff explains. “inReach has been the handiest device I have ever used.”
Friends Mark and Andrew survive a motorcycling accident
Friends Mark and Andrew were adventure motorcycling deep in the BC backcountry. The pair had ascended a remote trail high above the Squamish River Valley when Mark realized that he’d lost sight of his riding buddy Andrew, and he headed back up the trail. He found his friend pinned under his bike with a badly fractured leg, unable to move. Darkness was falling and Mark realized that it would take too long to ride out and return with help. He grabbed his inReach and initiated an SOS. Within minutes, GEOS emergency monitoring personnel had responded and he was able to use inReach to relay critical details of the situation to the SAR team.
Working with GEOS personnel via the inReach’s two-way text messaging, it was determined an airlift was the only safe way out, and upon confirmation that an airlift was on the way, they both breathed a sigh of relief. Mark got to work making Andrew as comfortable as possible, and Andrew was able to update his family on the situation. Thankfully, SAR responders were on the scene only a few hours later, and Andrew was airlifted out to waiting medical attention. As Mark says, “Without the InReach things could have been considerably worse. Thank you inReach!”
Veteran snowmobiler Scott Albrecht rescued after crash
In March of 2014, veteran snowmobiler Scott Albrecht crashed his snowmobile in 100 foot washout on a forestry road. With four broken vertebrae, four broken ribs, a lacerated kidney and bruising of his lungs and liver, Scott says it could have gone either way for him that day.
Fortunately Scott and his riding buddies carried inReach devices and were able to get Scott airlifted to hospital where he received the care he needed. Without inReach Scott isn’t sure he’d be alive today.