Correctional Officer Jody Clarke use his ham radio to get help for an injured hiker.

Correctional Officer Jody Clarke used his ham radio to get help for an injured hiker.

Amateur radio operator relays rescue information

By Lt. Reagen Athey, AA/Public Information Officer
Pleasant Valley State Prison

When four employees from two state prisons embarked on a recent camping trip, they weren’t expecting it to turn into a rescue mission.

During the first weekend of August, Avenal State Prison (ASP) Correctional Officer Jody Clarke, Pleasant Valley State Prison Chief Support Executive Toni Clarke and ASP Officers Robert and Dianna Tuck were camping near Dinky Creek.

The group had just returned from riding their ATVs when a woman flagged down Robert Tuck to ask if he had cell phone service.  She and a friend had been hiking, and the friend was injured after a fall. While the officer did not have cell service, he knew someone who could help. Fellow camper, Officer Clarke, happened to be an amateur radio operator, more commonly known as ham radio.

Officer Jody Clarke, while on vacation, used his ham radio to request help for an injured hiker.

Officer Jody Clarke, while on vacation, used his ham radio to request help for an injured hiker.

Officer Clarke radioed Mike Rainwater, Correctional Plant Supervisor at PVSP, on the 2-meter repeater and asked for help to call emergency services from his home. Officer Clarke provided him with the description of the woman, whose injuries consisted of a broken wrist and possible broken jaw, along with the GPS location of their campsite.

Rainwater contacted the Forestry dispatch number and emergency services, and relayed the information to the dispatcher, who was stationed out of Shaver Lake area. The ambulance and other emergency vehicles arrived at the campsite in 20 to 30 minutes. Emergency personnel drove toward the area where the injured hiker was left, finally hiking in to stabilize and rescue her.

Had it not been for the radio hobbies of Officer Clarke and Mike Rainwater, the injured hiker could have been left alone for many more hours.

Correctional Officer Robert Tuck was flagged down by a hiker seeking help for another injured hiker. Officer Tuck's fellow vacationer, Officer Jody Clarke, happened to be an amateur radio operator.

Correctional Officer Robert Tuck was flagged down by a hiker seeking help for another injured hiker. Officer Tuck’s fellow vacationer, Officer Jody Clarke, happened to be an amateur radio operator.