A 911 Dispatcher Used Facebook To Help Find And Save A Badly Injured Hiker And His Sons

Ryan Pritchard and his sons were rappelling along the Blue Ridge Loop Trail outside of Sacramento, Calif., on Sunday afternoon when Ryan fell 150 feet, got stuck in a tree on the side of a cliff, and was critically injured, the Napa Valley Register reported.

Pritchard’s son Devon, 18, had already returned to the family’s car to put hiking gear away, so his 11-year-old son Jake called 911 using his dad’s phone.

Jake told California Highway Patrol dispatchers his father had fallen and hit his head. However, before he could tell the dispatchers exactly where the family was, the call was disconnected, and nobody knew the Pritchards’ exact GPS coordinates.

All they knew was that the phone call connected with a mobile phone tower, which ended up being more than 30 miles away from where the Pritchards were hiking in the Putah Creek State Wildlife Area. 

Breanna Martinez, a 911 dispatcher trainee who had only been on the job for three weeks, decided to help by using LinkedIn and Facebook.

“I decided to search myself since they were busy, so I plugged [Ryan Pritchard’s] name into Google and his LinkedIn account came up,” Martinez told CBS 13 Sacramento. “So I was able to get a picture and know he was from Sacramento.”

After looking him up, she found him on Facebook and confirmed his location. “I scrolled down and the very first post was a picture of his two sons and behind him was the lake — Lake Berryessa. And it just said ‘Hiking the Blue Ridge Trail today,'” she said.

A California Highway Patrol helicopter team was then able to locate the family and airlift Ryan to a trauma unit. Ryan had “several fractured bones, a head injury and a broken jaw from the fall,” according to CBS 13. Pritchard is still recovering in the hospital; his sons weren’t injured.

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