At 11:15AM the 911 Dispatch Center received a call from a woman who had fallen about a half mile above the Edison Jeepway and a bit below the San Ysidro Falls area. When paramedics from the Montecito Fire Department arrived at the scene they discovered that the woman, who was a member of a small group in their mid-to-late 60s who hike together regularly, had fallen, suffering an open wound on her forehead, a serious wrist injury and injuries to her lower left leg.
The injuries were treated by the paramedics who then assisted the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue (SAR) team personnel in transporting the woman down to the Edison Jeepway and from there by ambulance to a local hospital. Montecito Fire personnel noted that they were able to pinpoint the location of the woman through the use of the GPS chip embedded in her cell phone. When she called in to report the incident, Dispatch was able to have the woman locate the GPS settings in the phone and to provide the Lat/Long coordinates for her location.
Nelson Trichler, long time Search and Rescue leader explained that all new smart phones now come with a GPS chip embedded in them that provides this information. “Typically when someone calls in to Dispatch with a GPS-enabled phone,” Trichler told me, “they can pull up the coordinates without any additional help.” Trichler also noted that in an emergency, it is possible to make contact with the company that provides the service and have them ping the phone. If it is in range, the company can provide the coordinates that way, allowing rescue of people who might have a cell phone with them but otherwise not be able to use it due to injury or being unconscious.
Trichler reminds everyone to bring their cell phone with them should something like what happened today. “Having a light source with you is also really important,” he added. With the night-vision goggles that our helicopter pilots now use, even the smallest bit of light can be picked up in the air if you are caught out after dark.” In one rescue a few years ago a few sparks from a Bic lighter enabled several teenagers to be located in a spot that they might not have without it.