Mon, Dec 13, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Legally blind search and rescue official dedicates his life to helping save others

By Wang Hsiu-ting  /  Staff Reporter

“Using my auditory skills to help people who encounter difficulties during hiking or mountain climbing brings me indescribable happiness,” said Yang Nei-tsung (楊內棕), who has been legally blind since the age of 10 months.

Yang, 53, lost the sight in both eyes after developing a serious fever. From early on, Yang became a big fan of amateur radio and made many friends communicating with amateur radio enthusiasts nationwide.

All this chatter trained him to listen to unclear voices through the hiss and noise of poor radio reception.

Aware of his gift, about 20 years ago Yang’s friends suggested he join International Headquarters Search and Rescue, Taiwan, a non-governmental organization that provides disaster relief assistance in Taiwan and abroad.

Yang followed that advice and since then has used his gift to help people who get into trouble when hiking or mountain climbing.

Yang eventually became director of the ninth dispatch radio center for eastern Taiwan, making him the organization’s only official with a physical disability in eastern Taiwan.

“As there is often no reception or poor reception for cellphones operating in some mountainous areas around Taiwan, people who have accidents while hiking or mountain climbing have to make rescue calls over the radio,” Yang said. “Radio reception is often very poor, which proves challenging when we try to identify or locate them.”

“On some occasions, we’ve had to stay in the radio center for two or three days waiting for the injured to issue intermittent rescue calls,” he said. “Only then can we determine their location, what -situation they’re in and send a rescue team to pick them up.”

“Two people lost their way in a mountainous area in Taitung County years ago. I was in the radio center and did not sleep for two days because if I missed any calls from them or my colleagues, the [two individuals] could very well have perished.”

Ironically, just as the rescue team was about to give up searching for the pair, they eventually found their way back unassisted — and unharmed, he said.

Although he has considered retirement, he will commit himself to rescue work for the rest of his life, Yang said.

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