I usually blog about deer and deer hunting, but something happened last weekend that I feel compelled to share. My son Neil is a wildlife consultant and he manages about 300,000 acres. He works in the woods 200 days a year and knows how to stay out of trouble.

But, he got in trouble in a hurry last weekend when an 8-inch diameter tree limb fell 20 feet and caught him on the left side of the head. He was driving a tractor and was immediately knocked unconscious. He was alone in the Adirondack mountains.

When he regained consciousness, he somehow managed to drive the tractor back to his vehicle but he was plenty banged up, in shock, nauseous and unable to follow the protocol that came up on his cell phone when he dialed 911. He couldn’t even see the screen.

However, he was able to push the red OnStar button on his truck mirror. A short second later a voice came on the speaker asking how they could help. They immediately dispatched an ambulance to his location. His GPS coordinates were automatically sent and the rescue was in motion. The OnStar representative stayed on the line with Neil, giving medical instructions. They were also in touch with the medical rescue team offering encouragement and keeping him calm.

The story ends well, (relatively speaking). After an ambulance ride to a local medical center and mercy flight to a hospital staffed with neurologists, Neil wound up with: a skull fracture, some bleeding in the brain, a cracked neck vertebrae, and a you’re-one-lucky-young man lecture from his doctor. 

He was released from the hospital after a few days in intensive care and hopefully will be back in the woods in a few weeks. It could have been a whole lot worse had he not received prompt medical attention.

I share this story simply to let my fellow outdoorsmen in on what I think might be a well kept secret: you don’t have to wreck your car or slide off the road to use your vehicle’s OnStar feature. It is darn handy to have as an emergency communication tool when in the field.

Now I don’t work for OnStar and don’t know anyone who does, but I do know a life-threatening situation when I see one. I’ve written about the importance of carrying Personal Locating Beacons (PLB’s) and cell phones and other types of emergency gear, but frankly, I have never thought about a vehicle’s OnStar unit as “back woods” rescue gear until now.

If your rig is equipped with OnStar technology, write yourself a “push OnStar button in emergency” note and stick it to your dash. Put another one on your first-aid kit (what do you mean you don’t carry one in your vehicle?), and while you’re at it, post one on the refrigerator of your cabin. 

If you are driving an older vehicle or chose not to equip your rig with OnStar, you might want to take a second look at this feature the next time around. I know one guy who will be adding it to his truck the next time he gets the chance.

Find out more about OnStar here.