Tag Archives: whistle

Survival Weekly – 7/15/14…


Dehydration, drowning, lightning storms and several other summer time wilderness hazards are showcased this week. In honor of Whistlemania, I highlighted one SAR initiated by a whistle.

Video from paraglider rescue – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXPXbL6hYt8#t=467

Death Valley National Park (CA)
Body Of British Actor Found Near Zabriskie Point

The body of British actor Dave Legeno, best known for his role as werewolf Fenrir Greyback in three of the ‘Harry Potter’ films, was discovered by hikers in the badlands near Zabriskie Point on July 6th.

Temperatures at the time of his death were as much as 118° to 123°F. This is the second heat-related death in the park this summer. Hiking is not recommended in the low elevations of Death Valley in the summer. 

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation.

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
Lightning Kills Two, Injures Ten In Separate Incidents

Lightning strikes killed two park visitors and injured ten others on park trails in separate incidents this past Friday and Saturday.

Around 1:20 p.m. on Friday, July 11th, the park was notified that a lightning strike had hit a number of visitors on the Ute Crossing Trail, located off of Trail Ridge Road between Rainbow Curve and Forest Canyon Overlook.

Eight visitors suffered a variety of injuries from the strike, with a 42-year-old Ohio woman succumbing to her injuries. Of the remaining seven, two were transported by ambulance and five transported themselves to the Estes Park Medical Center.   

Just before 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 12th, rangers were apprised of a lightning strike that injured four people, also near Rainbow Curve. All were taken to Estes Park Medical Center via ambulance. One of the four, a 52-year-old Nebraska man, did not survive.

The last lightning fatality that occurred in Rocky Mountain National Park was in 2000, when a technical climber was struck on the Diamond on Longs Peak. 

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
Missing Hiker Found In Kings Canyon

On July 3rd, a 33–year-old Clovis, California, man hiked from Florence Lake into the northern part of Kings Canyon National Park with the intent to climb Mt. Goddard. He was expected to return to his vehicle on July 7th, but by July 9th had not returned home.  Joint search operations were begun on July 9th with Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. 

On July 10th, search operations intensified, with six NPS hasty teams, the parks’ contract Type 3 helicopter, Yosemite NP’s Type 2 helicopter, and an NPS liaison assigned to Fresno County.   

Searchers reached the summit of Mount Goddard (elevation 13,558) and the peak register was found to have an entry left by the missing man on July 5th. On the evening of July 10th, the final team insertion took place around sunset near Davis Lake (elevation of 11,058), about two miles north of Mt. Goddard. 

As the helicopter was on final approach to the landing zone, the man was seen lying on the ground approximately fifty yards away.  The search team contacted him and found he had significant trauma to his lower extremities.  He said that he had been injured five days earlier while descending Mt. Goddard, had run out of food, and ultimately crawled toward Davis Lake. 

As sunset approached, potentially grounding the helicopter, the man was rapidly bandaged and carried to the helicopter by hand.  He was flown back to the park helibase, where he was transferred to a Life Flight helicopter for transport to a local hospital.


Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park (CO)
Two Rescues Conducted In Canyon

Rangers and Black Canyon Volunteer Search and Rescue Team members responded to two separate incidents over the Fourth of July weekend.

On Thursday, July 3rd, a 35-year-old Minnesota man who was backpacking with a friend on the South Rim’s Warner Route stepped off a 16-inch rock and broke his lower leg. The pair attempted to splint the lower leg with a trekking pole and a fishing rod, but the steep, loose terrain of Black Canyon made self-rescue impossible.

Rangers and a paramedic spent the night in the canyon with the pair and the SAR team and park personnel conducted a scree evacuation the following morning. The man was transported by ambulance to Montrose Memorial Hospital later that morning.

On Saturday, July 5th, a visitor at South Rim’s Chasm View overlook reported hearing a whistle and cries for help. Rangers on the South Rim were able to spot an individual toward the bottom of the North Rim’s S.O.B. Gully.

A climbing ranger hiked down to the 28-year-old hiker, who had fallen approximately 10 feet and suffered a compound leg fracture. Rangers and a paramedic spent the night with him to provide care, while a scree evacuation was staged for first light the following morning.

Black Canyon Volunteer Search and Rescue, park personnel, Western State Colorado University Search and Rescue, and West Elk Search and Rescue used 11 main and belay line stations of approximately 130 vertical feet each to raise the man a total of 1400 vertical feet. He was then transported via Tri State Care Flight to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

All the inner canyon routes in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park are infamous for loose rock, steep drop-offs and abundant poison ivy.

Buffalo National Scenic River (AR)
Visitor Saves Two Others From Drowning

On the afternoon of July 2nd, a father and daughter were saved from drowning by the heroic act of a visitor.

A man and his 10-year-old daughter were swimming in Buffalo River upstream from the Ponca low-water bridge when they were swept into deep water by the swift current. Neither of them were strong swimmers and both quickly became distressed. Michael Hogrefe of London Arkansas, who later revealed he is a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instructor and former lifeguard, went to their aid.

Hogrefe swam to the child and was pulling her back to shallow water when the father grabbed him. Hogrefe had almost reached shallow water with both victims when the swift current pulled all three back downriver and against the bridge abutment.

The current was pulling all three towards the bridge opening even though Hogrefe was frantically trying to prevent this while grabbing and scraping his fingernails and fingertips along the concrete abutment. He could no longer hold onto the father and daughter and let both go. He immediately got out of the water and went to the downstream side of the bridge, where the child’s mother was holding a branch out to her husband.

The husband latched into the branch while holding his daughter by her heel. Hogrefe pulled the child out of the water. He found that she was unconscious, blue and not breathing, so immediately began CPR and was on his fourth cycle when he could feel her heart beat. She began blinking her eyes, coughed up water and started asking for her mother. Witness’s estimated the time the child was underwater to be about six minutes.

While this rescue was in progress, Hogrefe’s girlfriend drove to Ponca, which is a very short distance from the bridge, where Buffalo River Outfitters contacted Midwest Region Ozark Communication Center with information regarding a possible drowning.

District Ranger Mark Miller, BUFFSAR member Glenn Wheeler, and North Arkansas Regional Medical Center paramedics responded. The father and daughter were assessed on scene by NARMC ambulance personnel. The family refused ambulance transport but did self-transport to the hospital for treatment.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (ND)
Four Backcountry Rescues Conducted On Independence Day

Early on the afternoon of July 4th, the park received a cell phone call with a weak signal. Through the series of calls and texts that ensued, it was determined that the caller was a 21-year-old North Dakota man, that there were two other people in his party (a 23-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man), that they were lost in the Achenbach Hills Wilderness Area, and that they were dehydrated and had only 20 milliliters of water left, The temperature at the time was 90 degrees, the humidity was 88%, and there was no wind.

Even with GPS coordinates and brightly spread out camping items, attempts to locate the party in the wilderness area were unsuccessful.  A hasty team was sent towards the GPS coordinates and a medical helicopter was dispatched from Dickinson, North Dakota. The hasty team located the trio approximately 50 feet from the Achenbach Trail, hiked to them, assessed them, and prepared a landing zone. 

A determination was made by the flight crew and the NPS EMT that two of them would be taken to the McKenzie County ambulance that was staged two miles away and that they would then pick up the third person and fly him to the hospital in Dickinson.  

As preparations were being made for the first flight, a second incident occurred when one of the hasty team members fainted due to heat exhaustion and dehydration. The team then determined to fly all the members of the party and the hasty team EMT to the staged ambulance and return to transport the ill NPS employee to the hospital. 

During these operations a third incident occurred when crew members at the staging area were alerted by a party of four picnickers walking the Achenbach trail about 100 feet below. Members of the party reported that a man in their group was dehydrated and could not make it up the trail. The man weighed approximately 290 pounds and was at the bottom of an 85% slope.  

A team of approximately 16 people was gathered from the nearby ambulance crew, visitors, and NPS employees and volunteers.  Using a wheeled litter and a rope, the team successfully delivered the man to the already staged ambulance. 

The SAR team was wrapping up operations and was about halfway into their after action review when a fourth incident occurred.  North Dakota State Radio 911 dispatch advised they were receiving a series of calls from a cell phone with a weak signal. 

Through a series of calls and texts, it was determined this caller was a 20-year-old woman from Minot, North Dakota, and that she was hiking with a 20-year-old man, also from Minot. Both were lost in the Achenbach Hills Wilderness Area and dehydrated.

The air ambulance was again dispatched from Dickinson and the McKenzie County ambulance returned to the staging area.  The woman was instructed to light one of her two signal flares. Spotters at two locations observed the smoke from the flares and directed the air ambulance to the location, which was approximately 200 yards from the Achenbach Trail.

Due to the extreme heat and safety-related concerns, the incident commander, chief ranger and superintendent made the determination to close the Achenbach Trail, which remained closed until Sunday, July 6th, when weather conditions improved. 

A total of 25 people participated in the SAR; operations were completed around 10 p.m. Ranger Ron Sams served as incident commander for three of the incidents and he was assisted by incident commander trainee Jared Thompson for the fourth and final incident. 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (MI)
Five Kayakers Rescued From Lake Michigan

On the afternoon of June 29th, five teenagers were rescued from the waters of Lake Michigan after being overcome by 25 mph winds and four- to five-foot waves while attempting to kayak approximately eight miles from South Manitou Island to the mainland of the park at Glen Haven. 

A ranger stationed on South Manitou Island received a phone call from a sailing vessel captain who reported picking up three kayakers who were in jeopardy. Two other members of their party were reported missing on the water and had not been seen for two hours.

Rangers and personnel from Glen Lake Fire Department, Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office and the Coast Guard conducted a search and rescue mission in and around park waters. Through joint search efforts, the two missing teens were located approximately one mile off the shore of Glen Haven.  One was found in their boat and the other in the water. 

The two were hoisted from the water by a Coast Guard helicopter and transported to emergency personnel at a boat ramp in Glen Arbor. The sailing vessel transported those on board to a waiting ambulance in Leland Harbor.  

Due to timely reporting, quick actions of responders and interagency coordination, all five teenagers avoided life-threatening injury and only suffered minor to moderate hypothermia.  The water temperature on the surface of the lake was approximately 55 degrees. 

Ranger Jennifer Langel was the incident commander for the park.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – NV
Drowning, Near-Drowning Occur On Same Day

Rangers dealt with a drowning and a near-drowning on Lake Mohave on Sunday, June 15th.

The first incident occurred at Cabinsite Point. A 37-year-old man was swimming across the cove there to retrieve an inflatable raft for his daughter when he began to struggle and subsequently disappeared underwater. He was not wearing a life jacket. Local divers who were training in the area recovered his body approximately 40 feet below the surface. CPR was begun, but was ultimately unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at Western Arizona Regional Medical Center. 

Later in the day, rangers received a call concerning a possible drowning at Cottonwood Cove on Lake Mohave. An 18-year-old had swum approximately 50 yards from shore when he began having difficulty in the choppy waters and started shouting for help. He was reportedly submerged for a minute before two visitors on a jet ski pulled him onboard and took him to shore. Witnesses on shore notified the NPS within minutes of the incident. Rangers and medics arrived and were able to successfully treat him. He also was not wearing a life jacket.

Cape Cod National Seashore (MA)

Visitor Drowns Off Park Shoreline

On the morning of June 22nd, a 27-year-old California man drowned while attempting to swim from a sandbar to shore approximately two miles south of Race Point Beach within the boundaries of Cape Cod National Seashore. 

Rangers, lifeguards and Provincetown fire and rescue personnel responded, took over CPR from other park visitors and utilized an AED, but were unable to revive him.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – NV

Man Falls From Boat And Drowns In Lake

The body of a 36-year-old Las Vegas man who disappeared in the lake near Callville Bay Marina on the evening of Wednesday, July 2nd, was found by divers in 15 feet of water the following afternoon.

The park received the initial call just before 9 p.m. on Wednesday. The caller reported that the man fell off the front of a boat and disappeared underwater.

Rangers and concessions security personnel responded and began an immediate search from the point where he was last seen. The search resumed on Thursday with the assistance of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Search and Rescue Dive Team.

Witnesses reported that the man had been drinking and wasn’t wearing a life jacket. 

Hikers rescued after night out – http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/2222619-151/three-hikers-rescued-west-of-bend?entryType=0#

Lost hiker rescued – http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20140708/crews-rescue-july-4-hiker-in-strawberry-wilderness#.U8WO2Pnlr58

Missing tuber – http://wwlp.com/2014/07/06/search-and-rescue-in-the-deerfield-river/

Missing swimmer – http://www.dailytownsman.com/breaking_news/266086501.html

Search suspended for missing man – http://www.tricitynews.com/news/266256941.html

Hikers rescued after getting stuck on cliff – http://tumblerridgenews.com/?p=13528

Lost, barefoot hiker rescued – http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26118883/barefoot-hiker-wanders-great-sand-dunes-30-hours

Teen drowns at state park – http://fox13now.com/2014/07/09/crews-searching-for-teen-who-went-under-water-at-hyrum-state-park-reservoir/

Injured hiker rescued from cliff  http://www.chaffeecountytimes.com/free_content/article_dcd721e6-0864-11e4-a0e7-001a4bcf6878.html

Missing teens rescued – http://www.chicoer.com/news/ci_26131003/searches-continue-teens-last-seen-butte-creek-river

SAR resumes for missing hiker – http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/yourtown/oxford/11333984.Search_for_Tom/

Dehydrated hiker rescued from Pacific Crest Trail – http://www.dailyrecordnews.com/inbrief/hiker-rescued-on-pacific-crest-trail/article_6a9c659a-0969-11e4-91ad-001a4bcf887a.html

Missing kayakers rescued – http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/local/door-county/news/2014/07/11/missing-kayakers-located-michigan-waters/12514405/

Technical rescue for injured hikerhttp://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/local/door-county/news/2014/07/11/missing-kayakers-located-michigan-waters/12514405/

School group rescued – http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/schoolgirls-rescued-bush-near-waikino-6026298

Family rescued after vehicle gets stuck in mud – http://www.mybighornbasin.com/Worland-Family-Rescued-from-Remote-Park-County/19405360

Injured climber rescued after fall – http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/fire-rescue/rock-climber-grateful-save-metro-s-search-and-rescue-team

Conservation officers conduct multiple rescues in White Mountains –  http://www.conwaydailysun.com/newsx/local-news/114670-fish-and-game-conservation-officers-respond-to-multiple-search-and-rescue-calls-in-white-mountains

Party of eight rescued off mountain – http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/619515/8-hikers-rescued-in-cavite-mountain



Whistlemania III – Slippery When Wet…


 If you are a boater, raft guide, lifeguard, sailor, swift water rescuer, or anyone that works around water, this episode is for you. I guess since 70 percent of the earth is covered by water, then this episode is really for everyone.

So crank up the Bon Jovi as our our gladiators hit the lake to find out which liked to wet their whistles and which ones needed water wings…

Test 1:  I pulled out my life jacket from my old raft guiding days, strapped it on, and went into the drink. The test was simple. Completely submerge and then see how many blasts it took to clear the whistle of water when I popped up.

Test 2: Some manufacturers boast that their whistle floats. I think this is a non issue, since it should be attached to your lifejacket by a lanyard. I tested them anyway.

Test 3: Some manufacturers claim their whistles work underwater.

According to http://www.stormwhistles.com/ “It’s patented design allows the Storm whistle to be heard up to fifty feet underwater, due to its unique sounding chamber forcing out all water when the whistle is blown.” 

I assume this is just boasting about the easy clearance as I am not aware of any practical value of underwater whistle blowing. Anyway, I went under and tried them out.


How did they do? Scroll on down to find your pick..


Jetscream Micro – 2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

ACME 660 – 2 blasts to clear, floated, worked under water

Fox 40 Classic – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

ACME Tornado 635 –  2 blasts to clear, floated, did not work underwater

Hammerhead – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Tin Whistle –  2 blasts to clear, sinker, did not work underwater

Fox 40 Mini – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

AMK or SOL or Fox 40 Micro –  2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

ACME Tornado 636 –  2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

SOL Slim Rescue Howler –  2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

ACR – 3 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater


Coghlan’s 5 in 1 Survival Aid – 3 blasts to clear, floated, did not work underwater

Zipper Pull Whistle – 4 blasts to clear, sinker, did not work underwater

Coghlan’s 4 in 1 Whistle – 2 blasts to clear, sinker, did not work underwater

Sternum Strap Whistle – 2 blasts to clear, sinker, worked underwater

LMF Swedish Firesteel Army 2.0 –  4 blasts to clear, sinker, worked underwater


Windstorm – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Hammerhead Mighty – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Lifejacket Whistle – 3 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

FOX 40 Eclipse – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Storm – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Scotty Lifesaver – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

ACME Tornado 2000 – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

FOX 40 Sonic Blast – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

UST Jetscream – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Whistles for Life – 2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

Promo whistle –  2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

FOX 40 Sharx – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

ACME Cyclone 888 – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

ACME 649 – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Test 1 Observations:

  • 1st blasters – Easy. The pealess, like the Fox series, seemed a little easier than versions with a pea
  • 2nd blasters – It wasn’t too hard to clear them. I wouldn’t discount a 2nd blaster
  • 3rd blasters – I found it funny that the “Lifejacket” whistle ended up here
  • 4th blasters – Both are multi-purpose and not likely to be your water rescue whistle


Test 2 Observations: 

  • Shame on you if your whistle is not tethered or clipped to your jacket as it could be dropped, swept away by the current, or waves.
  • Realistically, the sternum strap, zipper pull, and ferro rod striker are attached to something that may float or may sink


Test 3 Observations:

  • Both the Storm and the Windstorm did seem to perform best underwater. If you have gills then maybe these are the whistles for you.


Tune in next week to see how your pick fares..

If you are late to the party and need to catch up, click the following links;

Whistlemania I – https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/05/whistlemania-i/

Whistlemania II – https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/15/whistlemania-ii-the-iceman-cometh/

Whistlemania II – The Iceman Cometh…


What happens when you hold Whistlemania II in sub-freezing conditions? Carnage.. frozen carnage.

Right now it is 59 degrees and raining, so I had to create the sub-freezing arena. First, I gave the Whistlers a good dunking.

You may wonder why I didn’t save up and store a quart of saliva for “real-world” testing. I would be lying if I said the thought didn’t cross my mind, but my wife already has enough stories to attest to my grossness without adding any more.


I then pulled them out of the water for a quick shake and dumped the water out of the box. The whistles were then placed in my freezer for two days, rooming next to some deer and hogs.


I recognize that this experiment does not exactly replicate coating a whistle with spittle in freezing temps, but it still holds value in my book. In a ways this may be more extreme due to complete immersion.

Some manufacturers claim that their whistle does not absorb water..

Will the pea in the whistle swell if exposed to water?

Absolutely not! This is a myth perpetuated in the manufacturing industry to try and differentiate various products. We use pore-filled natural cork. The pore filling process closes any natural voids found in cork, giving it a consistent sealed surface. Water coats the cork, but does not penetrate to any signifigant volume. We have tested whistles submerged for over a week and they perform exactly as a dry whistle. The 2 additional pea-less chambers will also operate in any weather or survival condition. http://www.whistlesforlife.com/whistles.html

And another claims their pea to be resistant to freezing..

The Pea whistle has always been flawed – until now.

Users have always found the peas in their whistles to jam, freeze, or deteriorate quickly under regular use. This is because the peas that are in standard whistles today are made out of corks – or similar moisture-absorbent materials. The wooden cork peas in conventional pea whistles absorb wet agents, such as saliva and moisture in the air, which in turn creates mold. Hammerhead peas are constructed out of materials that fight mold and bacteria.

Hammerhead peas are waterproof, specially weighted, and designed to outlast the competition in any weather condition. No more jamming, no more freezing! http://www.bestwhistle.com/#!__pea-technology

Myths, marketing, and mayhem, they may be cold, but they’re ready to rumble..


Jetscream Micro – Pass

ACME 660 – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Fox 40 Classic – Failed due to ice blockage

ACME Tornado 635 –  Pass

Hammerhead –  Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Tin Whistle –  Failed due to ice blockage. This was the only metal whistle tested, but the concern for metal sticking to your lips in freezing temps might have some validity. Here is a quote about the problem during the “Ice Bowl”  –

Referee Norm Schachter had a metal whistle freeze to his lips. When he tried to rip it free, it took the skin off his lip, leaving a frozen, bloody lip! Referees then had to simply yell out commands instead of blowing the whistle to end plays.


Fox 40 Mini – Pass

AMK or SOL or Fox 40 Micro –  Pass

ACME Tornado 636 –  Pass

SOL Slim Rescue Howler –  Failed due to ice blockage

ACR – Failed due to ice blockage


Coghlan’s 5 in 1 Survival Aid – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Zipper Pull Whistle – Pass

Coghlan’s 4 in 1 Whistle – Pass

Sternum Strap Whistle – Failed due to ice blockage

LMF Swedish Firesteel Army 2.0 –  Failed due to ice blockage


Windstorm – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Hammerhead Mighty – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Lifejacket Whistle – Pass

 FOX 40 Eclipse – Failed due to ice blockage

 Storm – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

 Scotty Lifesaver – Pea froze, but whistle still worked. Failed to blow over 100 decibels.

ACME Tornado 2000 – Pass

 FOX 40 Sonic Blast – Pass

 UST Jetscream – Pass

 Whistles for Life – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Promo whistle –  Failed due to ice blockage

FOX 40 Sharx – Pass

 ACME Cyclone 888 – Pass

ACME 649 – Pass

BigPig Outdoors Pseudo-scientific Opinionated Conclusions:

1. Peas may freeze, but the whistles still worked. All the “frozen pea” whistles blew over 100 decibels at arm’s length on the meter.

2. Tiny air channels hold water that may freeze and cause blockage. ACR, SOL Slim, and the Promo have the tiniest air channels.

3. Carrying your whistle around your neck and under your coat in cold weather should remedy all problems.

4. I have not had a freeze up in actual conditions, nor have I read about any in an outdoor emergency scenario. If you have a first hand account of a whistle freezing up or can link an article, please share your experience in the comment section.

Tune in next week for Whistlemania III and if you missed the first one, go here: https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/05/whistlemania-i/