Using Siren Doppler

Near the ramp that leads to the Golden Gate Bridge is a National Park area under construction.

No, that's not the right term.

It's torn up in 50 different ways in 50 different places by no less than...wait for it...50 different contractors.

Late one night we got a call for a hiker down.  I too heard Mike Myers character from So I Married an Axe Murderer..."We've got a piper down" but I digress.  Since it was a cell phone call it was routed through the Highway Patrol to the National Park Police, then finally to the rescuers with the SFFD, meaning e very detail from the caller has made it to us, the rescuer.  I'll give you a moment to stop laughing.

The location was given as follows:

"Near the base of the bridge, fell down, near a fence."  Oh, well there you go then.

That literally describes the 1/2 mile leading up to the bridge in all directions, including water.  When we asked dispatch for more information they obliged by reading back to us what was on our screen.

A quick aside for our dispatcher friends:  If you have nothing further and do not still have the lost hiker on the line, don't read us back what we already know.  Simply tell us you have nothing further and are trying a call back.  That's all we really need.

With police, us and an ambulance searching roadways near the bridge I realized we had the caller's cell phone number on our screen so I pulled out my phone and called.  When the hiker answered I could hear our siren in the background.

Then as the ambulance approached from another direction I was able to gauge proximity to the rigs.  I'm sure you remember this skill from Paramedic School.  It was after Cardiology but before pediatrics.  Our federal Q was closer than the ambulance's electric siren, so we had them slow and approach our location.With our knowledge of the construction area and the vague description of the hiker's surroundings "rocks and a fence" we were able to roughly estimate where they were.  A few minutes later, there we were, face to bloodied face.

The hiker thanked us and mentioned, "I was wondering if anyone was going to call me back or not."



Renee Roberts said…
Gotta love echolocation, EMS-style... We've used it a few times to locate injured patients.
Edward Koczan said…
Now imagine the old days before cell phones, when it was just a "recovery effort" due to the time lapse..  Well done!
Brian R. said…
Had a similar call where we did that with an unresponsive diabetic who called from his cell phone in his car in a packed parking lot. He passed out prior to us being able to locate him, so we used our sirens to determine if we were getting closer or farther away. 15 minutes of tracking and 1 amp of D50 later, he was off to eat lunch and so were we. =)
Hilinda said…
Fairly standard out here, to find lost hikers. Lights and sirens both can be a great help. Most recent one, they were behind a ridge, so couldn't see any lights and were hearing echos of the sirens. Took a bit longer, but we were able to find them by moving away from them until they couldn't hear anything, and moving back in more slowly. Since they were ambulatory, we also had them go to the top of the ridge. Even though ultimately it wasn't the direction they needed to get out, it provided much better ability to see and hear.
It was a miracle they had cell service, though. We were having blind spots for both cell phones and radios. Still, everyone managed to work together to get them out of the cold.