SOS call from Scottish glen routed via Texas
May 13 2008 by Jule Wilson, The Journal
A NORTH businessman who fell ill while trekking through a remote Scottish glen was rescued after raising the alarm with the authorities – in Texas.
Danish Niels Vinther, 60, of Sunderland, managing director of pump manufacturer Grundfos Ltd, got into difficulties when he started suffering from stomach pains and collapsed during a coast-to-coast walk.
Being out of mobile reception range, he activated his £150 tracking device – the size of a bar of soap – which sent a message via satellite 4,000 miles across the Atlantic to a control centre in Houston, Texas.
Mr Vinther’s personal Spot tracker gave his location in latitude and longtitude, placing him in Glen Etive, near Glencoe, 15 miles south of Fort William. The emergency message was then passed from Texas to the police station at Fort William which passed it on to RAF rescue.
A Royal Navy helicopter was scrambled from Prestwick Airport near Glasgow by the RAF Air Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Kinloss, Morayshire, and Mr Vinther was rescued shortly after 3am.
He was still being treated in hospital last night, but his company Grundfos released a statement.
A spokesman said: “Niels stated he was taken aback when the helicopter arrived overhead and said they did a sterling job, calling his rescuers absolutely brilliant. All praise to the rescue service.
“He is currently in hospital undergoing tests and is comfortable.”
Controllers at the Geos Centre in Houston said later that the company was set up only six months ago and confirmed that this was the first time that a long-distance rescue had been carried out using their equipment in the UK. RAF Kinloss spokesman Flight Lieutenant Curly Crawford said: “It’s a very useful device, about the size of a small mobile phone.
“It has done a cracking job in getting rescue agencies to this gentleman’s position.
“He was in a great deal of pain and distress but we reached him in a timely fashion.
“If he had not had this device it would probably have been some considerable time before we found him. Glen Etive is a very hilly area and he was alone.”
First European rescue , but lives saved in States
THE rescue yesterday was the first ever in Europe using SPOT, the emergency satellite system.
The device, priced at £149.95, offers a vital line of communication with friends, family and emergency services.
It has already saved lives in the United States.
Once the system has been activated, it sends its location and a distress message to the GEOS Emergency Response Centre in the USA.
This message is then passed to the appropriate emergency service who can pinpoint an exact location.
The device also sends a distress signal to a family member or friend who is an emergency contact. Because the system uses satellite technology it works virtually everywhere. It just needs a clear view of the sky.
SPOT is the first device of its kind using the GPS sat- ellite network to acquire co-ordinates and a commer- cial satellite network to send out locations.