A volunteer trail-safety patrol member for the East Bay Regional Park District got some personal experience Saturday in getting lost.
Albert Rothman, of Livermore, was rescued by a helicopter in Del Valle Regional Park near Livermore about midnight Saturday, eight hours after he set out on a routine trail patrol he expected to last two or three hours.
Rothman, 85, a seasoned hiker, went out around 4 p.m. to look for anyone on the trail in need of help or directions. The park district launched a search on ground and air after he failed to check in with park officials after dark.
Rothman carried a park district emergency radio with him, but he didn't know how to use it to call for help. As a result, he was restricted to listening to rather than assisting the search.
Park officials found him after broadcasting a radio message urging Rothman — if he was listening — to shine any light he had up in the air.
He flashed a tiny key-chain light, enabling the park district helicopter pilot to find and rescue him.
"I'm fine other than being a little tired," Rothman said by phone Sunday from his home. While he won't abandon his practice of hiking by himself, Rothman said, "I learned I need to do better on some safety things."
Rothman said, and a park official agreed, that Rothman should have carried a flashlight and a charged cell phone, and he also should have known how to call in on the emergency radio.
But Rothman acted properly in dressing warmly and notifying park officials in advance of his travel plan and return time, said Ned MacKay, volunteer coordinator of the district's hiking trail safety patrol.
"It's always better to hike with a companion," MacKay said. "But if you hike alone, it's especially important to leave word with a responsible person about your travel route and return time."