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The Best Thing in Texas: A Scottish Mountain Man Was Rescued—After His Distress Signal Was Picked Up in Houston

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The Best Thing in Texas: A Scottish Mountain Man Was Rescued—After His Distress Signal Was Picked Up in Houston
70-year-old Ken had been living off the grid for 25 years when he fell ill.


Scottish Highlands
fotoVoyager/Getty

WHAT: An unlikely life-saving rescue, thanks to a Houston organization that monitors the airwaves for distress signals.
WHO: Houston’s International Emergency Response Coordination Center and a 70-year-old Scotsman, known only as “Ken.”

WHY IT’S SO GREAT: There are many ways to live. Ken, a Scottish retiree who chose an off-the-grid lifestyle, had spent 25 years in relative solitude a dozen or so miles outside of the small Scottish Highlands town of Fort William. Now 70 years old, Ken—his neighbors didn’t know his last name—fell ill.

While he enjoyed living off the grid, Ken was apparently mindful of his safety, according to The Telegraph. He kept a personal satellite tracker called a SPOT Beacon for emergencies. Ken had been using the beacon on a weekly basis to send a “check in” to family, but last Sunday, he sent an urgent alert. The signal wasn’t picked up in Fort William, though—nor was it heard in Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Aberdeen, or even London or Brussels. Rather, it was heard by the folks at the International Emergency Response Coordination Center in Houston.

The International Emergency Response Coordination Center is a part of GEOS Worldwide, a group of companies across the world that offer monitoring services to detect just the sort of signal that Ken sent out. After noticing the SOS signal, the GEOS team in Houston relayed the signal to the UK Coast Guard, who deployed a helicopter to check in on the self-styled “mountain man.”

That helicopter was unable to navigate the woods that Ken lived in, but a mountain rescue team that specializes in such efforts was brought in—and upon identifying the man, they recognized that he needed care in a hospital. He was retrieved from his home, brought out on a stretcher, and loaded onto a helicopter bound for Fort William. Ken was taken into the care of doctors at a local hospital, and The Telegraphreports that he’s “recovering well.” It was a daring rescue of a man who found a way to safely live away from our technological world—aided by a satellite signal, which was routed through Houston, back to Scotland, and to a helicopter 4,500 miles away.