Joe Hiscock and his son were looking forward to one of their regular hunting trips to their cabin outside of Burgeo, a rural town situated on the south coast of Newfoundland. Located well off the beaten track with no accessible roads for the last 35 kilometers, the only way in and out of the property is by private helicopter. Snowmobiles are also used in winter months. Since the cabin is in a remote area beyond the reach of both cellular and traditional GSM networks, Joe relies on his SPOT Satellite Messenger to keep in touch with family during his hunting trips. “I use SPOT all year around to stay in touch with my family, to let them know where I am and what I am doing. It’s fantastic.”
It was around dinner time on Monday, September 28th 2015 when Joe and his son were dropped off by private helicopter at the cabin. Their scheduled return pick up was planned for the following Friday. On Tuesday morning at day break, the pair headed out on their first day of hunting for rock ptarmigan (grouse). After walking 13 kilometers, or about 8 miles, Joe began to experience sharp abdominal pains so he and his son decided it would be best to return to the cabin until it passed. As the afternoon wore on, Joe’s pain continued to worsen and he began to worry that it could be appendicitis. His remote location, plus the fact that the scheduled pick up was still days away, heightened his worry. As Joe’s symptoms continued to escalate, his son urged him to use SPOT to send out a call for help. Joe decided to wait until about 10pm when he was unable to withstand the pain any longer. He decided it was time to get help and so he pressed the SOS button on his SPOT device. Within 20 minutes, the local RCMP detachment was on the phone with Joe’s wife back home, confirming Joe’s location at the cabin. Shortly after that, a helicopter was dispatched to the area based on the GPS coordinates transmitted by Joe’s SPOT. Due to the heavy fog in the area, the helicopter had to circle, making several attempts before it could land safely. In the early morning hours when visibility improved, the helicopter was able to land and Joe was immediately airlifted to a nearby hospital where he received emergency medical treatment for an abdominal infection complicated by kidney stones.
A couple of weeks after being discharged from the hospital, Joe continues to recover at home. He is grateful for the outcome and his rescue, and says without hesitation that “everybody who goes out in the woods should have a SPOT. It could save their life. It saved mine.”