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The Wireless Foundation Honors OnStar Subscriber

carole cooper (select to view enlarged photo)
Carole Cooper

WASHINGTON--July 23, 2013 An OnStar subscriber was honored by The Wireless Foundation for using her vehicle’s telematics system as a temporary command center to help campers injured during violent thunderstorms at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2012.

Carole Cooper was named a 2013 Wireless Samaritan at the 19th Annual VITA™ Achievement Awards Dinner on Monday evening, put on by The Wireless Foundation.

Cooper was vacationing near the park when severe thunderstorms swept through the area knocking down a number of trees and creating a dangerous situation for those outdoors. Cooper was walking her dog in the park when she noticed a number of campers in distress, including an unconscious 7-year-old girl; her father, later discovered to have suffered multiple broken ribs; and her mother, who was less seriously injured.

Cooper ran to her Chevrolet Tahoe and drove it onto the scene to use it as a central emergency station. Other people in the area helped bring campers in distress, including the family of three, to Cooper’s SUV. Cooper then called OnStar, where an emergency advisor relayed emergency medical instructions.

The OnStar advisor directed first responders to the scene. But with the roads blocked by the downed trees, they were forced to travel on foot into the campsite. Because the public safety communication system was down, Cooper’s vehicle became a makeshift command post as the rescue workers used her OnStar connection to communicate with other emergency personnel. It took four to five hours for enough trees to be cleared for rescue workers to drive Cooper's Tahoe far enough out of the park to get the injured family to safety. They were all transferred to a nearby hospital once rescue workers were able to get them out of the affected area.