Tuolumne County, Calif. June 25, 2017 – On June 24, 2017 at approximately 6:30 a.m., California Highway Patrol Helicopter 24 (H-24) received a call for assistance from Alpine County Sheriff’s Office, regarding a man that had activated his SPOT device at 5:00 a.m. due to an unknown emergency. A SPOT device is an emergency Satellite GPS locater that provides exact GPS coordinates.
H-24 responded to the search area from the Auburn Airport. Flight Officer/Paramedic Matt Calcutt entered the provided GPS coordinates into the moving map system and provided a course to the Pilot, Officer Monty Emery. With the coordinates of the SPOT device, they flew right to the victim, Padraig Coleman, in 50 minutes. They found his campsite in the trees with the helicopters camera system and began looking for a suitable landing zone (LZ). Due to the terrain and trees, H-24 landed 1 mile away then began hiking toward Mr. Coleman. They met him and a friend approximately ½ mile from the LZ. They learned that he had become extremely ill and needed medical care. The crew slowly hiked him back to the helicopter, provided him medical attention, then flew him to South Lake Tahoe Airport to an awaiting ground ambulance. He was transported to Barton Hospital for treatment.
Mr. Coleman is a highly experienced long distance hiker. He completed the Pacific Crest Trail last year and the difficult Appalachian Trail the year before. He said that he has carried the SPOT device for three years and has never used it. He was extremely glad that he had it on Saturday.