An Odd Pandemic Victim
By Suellene Petersen, K6CPA, PIC, Santa Clara Valley Section, Pacific
It was Field Day Saturday when Steve, AC6P, decided to finish tilting up an HF tribander so that he could make lots of contacts. What is wrong with this plan? Well, Steve should have had at least one more guy to help him with this job. Normally, there would be several UCSC hams who would love the opportunity to learn how to accomplish such a feat. However, this Field Day rolled around into the middle of a global pandemic. You cannot do social distancing while putting up an antenna. It is at least a two or three guy job and still a bit of a challenge to accomplish on the side of a steep hill. But, oh what a wonderful thing if it could be done alone. So, the plan was to get the thing up and then spend the rest of the day and evening making contacts.
As the afternoon progressed, I could see some sort of one-man gin pole with block and tackles out there but it did not resemble any antenna that I have seen before. I thought is must be a “make-do” attempt for just that weekend. Since I did not see Steve. I assumed that he was in his electronic lab (where his ham station is also found) working Field Day contacts, as in past years. I have been unable to easily get up the steep hill for the past five years, so I did not try to check on him at that time. Besides, Steve was busy and having fun…so I thought.
As darkness descended, I still had not seen him. No water, no food, no answering my calls either by radio or phone. I yelled, but no answer. He must really be busy. Well, that is what he does on Field Day in the mountains. After midnight, I was really worried because I could not contact him. As soon as dawn occurred, I was determined to get up to the Lab and see if he had fallen asleep at his radio station. It took me half an hour to climb up the hill. I was happy to see the light on in the Lab. However, he was not there. I yelled, no answer. I yelled again. No answer. I checked the pathway. My attention was captured by a slight movement of something pink. It was Steve laying on the ground near the house and his finger was moving. He could barely speak when he relayed the fact that he had fallen.
I called 911 and an emergency team arrived a short time later and they took him to get emergency treatment. It was not until several days later that he was able to recall that he had slipped and fallen twice on the loose gravely earth near the new tower. The first time, the ground gave way and he bumped his head, hand, and arm. I did not know until several weeks later that he had fallen twice. The second time, a small log rolled down the hill and knocked him down and in the process his right leg was severely injured. The wound on his leg was quite serious and he is still being treated. He has already endured one surgery, and now sees a special team of nurses who examine his progress every two days. He is in constant pain. He may have to have a second surgery if the healing is slower.
The lesson learned? No matter how much experience you have in working with antennas, it is not a good thing to erect one without help. Steve would not have done it alone, except that the pandemic was still in full bloom, and he had no one to help him.