Make of it what you will. Lost Trail Pass can be a pretty treacherous little stretch of road, worse in the winter. Because there is no cell phone service on the south side, there remains a ‘call box’ – an old telephone receiver to direct dial 911 in case of an emergency. When the call box is used, an alarm goes off to emergency personnel but they don’t respond until they are toned out by dispatch. Don and Emma are First Responders that live at the bottom of the pass. This particular winter night the pass had accumulated 3-4 inches of new snow. The scene is set.
3 am the call box alarm goes off waking Don and Emma. They lay in bed a few minutes waiting for the tone out then decided to ‘get a head start’. They found nothing as they approached the call box and to their surprise, there were no tracks in the new snow to the call box. They continued uphill several hundred yards to a safe place to turn around where they switched drivers and Don hooked up the search light. They crept downhill scouring the dark roadside, turning around again a mile past the call box, then they crept back uphill peering over the side of the road into the deep drop-off. This time Don caught a glimpse of a vehicle 50 feet down the steep embankment. There were no tire tracks.
To get safely off the road, Don got out and using their radios, directed Emma in backing up as near to the guardrail as possible without hitting the aircraft cable on the ends. In the meantime, down in town 45 miles away, Teresa, the director of Emergency Services, heard Don over the radio telling Emma she was getting close to the ‘wire’. Teresa thought there were down electrical lines and figured she would soon be getting toned out so she got dressed, called another responder and they went to the station waiting to be told where to take the ambulance.
Once safely parked off the highway, Don and Emma began yelling down the ravine receiving a faint “Help Me” in reply. Don radioed in to dispatch and the ambulance was on it’s way. Sliding and tripping down the hill, Emma was amazed that the Jeep had rolled over the edge missing the cable on the guardrail, huge rocks and a dozen trees to land safely and undamaged on it’s wheels halfway in the North Fork River. As she came up to the vehicle the engine died having run out of fuel at that moment. Sitting there was Harry, a middle-aged man, disabled, with a walker and a scooter and a small service dog. He had been prepared with a sleeping bag, snacks and water. He was able to get out to relieve himself and build a small fire but it was impossible for him to climb up the hill to the highway for help. He had been there for 30 hours, afraid to go to sleep, out of sight of traffic and snowplows, running his engine intermittently to stay warm.
Minutes after Don and Emma got Harry and his little service dog to the highway, the ambulance arrived. Harry had no injuries. He had early symptoms of hypothermia and his feet were cold but not frostbit. His Jeep was towed out the next day without damage.
How did Harry miss the trees and rocks when he slid over the edge?
What prompted Theresa to sit in the ambulance waiting to get toned out?
What inspired Don and Emma to go against standard protocol and respond without being toned out? Not to mention searching when it appeared the call box hadn’t been used.
What set off the call box?
It’s not what, it’s Who.