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Huron County OPP encouraging use of emergency app after South Bruce senior rescued from swamp

OPP uniform. The Canadian Press file

Huron County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are renewing calls for outdoor preparedness after a 70-year-old man was rescued after becoming lost in the Saratoga Swamp early Wednesday morning.

Police say people need to have a plan and make sure they are properly prepared before heading out on trails and use the help of apps in case they get lost.

On Tuesday, just before 11 p.m., OPP received a 911 call from a man who was able to say “lost” before the call was disconnected. The 911 operators tried to call the man back but could not reach him.

First responders got an emergency release of the phone subscriber information to get the possible location of the caller.

West Region OPP emergency response team (ERT) officers and canines attended the scene and started to search for the lost man, police say.

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Just after 3 a.m., police say they were able to establish voice contact with the man but could not find him until 4:30 a.m. because of the difficult swampy terrain.

Police say they found the South Bruce man sitting on a log, well under-dressed and under-prepared for a long night in the bush.

Read more: Toronto police encourage use of what3words app in wake of emergency situation near Rouge River

Shortly after 6:15 a.m. ERT members returned from the swamp with the lost man.

Police say it was just after 6:15 a.m. that they could get the man, a 70-year-old with mobility issues, safely out of the swamp, “very cold, wet and sore but fortunate to be alive.”

The man had ventured into the trails around noon on Tuesday, looking for deer antlers, and became “turned around,” unable to find his way out, police say

Despite the story having a happy ending, OPP have a few recommendations for anyone looking to go into the bush or on the trails to stay safe.

Before people go out hiking, police recommend they plan their route, carry maps or GPS and have a fully charged cell phone with emergency contacts.

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People should also share their plans with a family member or friend and have them call for assistance if they are not back by a pre-determined time, police say.

Police also remind people to dress appropriately for the weather and be aware of changing weather conditions throughout the day.

Read more: What3words app increasingly being used by Ontario’s emergency services to find people who are lost

For those driving to a spot, OPP say you should leave a note on the dash with your planned return time and information if you get lost.

It is also recommended that people bring food, water, sunscreen, a first aid kit, a flashlight and a lighter.

Police are also encouraging people to download the what3words app, which can work without internet or data.

The app can provide emergency responders with your unique location code even in remote areas or locations with cellular signals too weak for cellular data to work.

With this digital tool, the OPP’s communication centres can help officers locate callers unaware of their exact locations, including in wooded areas and on waterways.

The what3words app is free for users to download, and the OPP is encouraging Ontarians to have it in case of an emergency.

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