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GMC LIFE

VIRGINIA VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER USES GMC SIERRA’S ONSTAR® TO HELP DIRECT MEDICAL HELICOPTER TO HEAD-ON CRASH

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For volunteer firefighter Gene Rife, having available OnStar has not only given his family added peace of mind on the road, but has also helped him rescue those in need.

Late on a frigid night in March, the Slate Creek Fire Department in Grundy, Virginia, was dispatched to a head-on collision on state Route 83, about 14 miles east of town. Gene was among the firefighters who answered the call.

“I am usually pretty quick to the firehouse and most always prepared, but not this time,” he said. “All our trucks were already on their way, so I grabbed my gear and continued on in my 2011 GMC Sierra.”

When Gene arrived on scene, most of his crew had begun extricating a trapped and injured passenger. The crew realized that one or both crash victims would need to be flown to a trauma center. It was Gene’s task to locate and provide GPS coordinates for a safe landing zone for a medical helicopter.

“Everybody was counting on me,” he recalls.

What made this challenging was their location. The crash took place in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. The area is also on the western end of Virginia’s “boot,” near the borders of West Virginia and Kentucky. All those factors play havoc with phone signals and GPS coordinates. In fact, the initial emergency call was routed to a dispatch center in West Virginia, which is much farther away than Grundy.

Gene picked a wide, flat spot on top of a ridge for the landing zone. But his heart sank when he realized he’d left his mobile GPS unit at home on the charger. Then he remembered his Sierra had OnStar. Surely, the OnStar Advisor could get accurate GPS coordinates for his vehicle and share them with the local emergency services dispatcher.

“The Advisor understood what my predicament was,” Gene says. “I explained my situation — staking out a landing zone — and that I needed to get these coordinates to the aircraft. I was still holding on the line with OnStar when I heard the helicopter approaching.”

Gene has also been an EMT instructor for 20 years and knows the value of time when it comes to trauma.

“One of the things we always talk about is the golden hour,” he explains, referring to the period of time when it’s most important for a critically injured person to get medical help. “This guy’s golden hour was burning up. After that hour, your rehabilitation and recovery are going to increase in time. Every minute counts.”

The trapped man was airlifted to a trauma center in Bristol, Tennessee. The other victim went by ambulance to a local hospital and was later airlifted to Pikeville, Kentucky.

Gene first learned about OnStar back in 2004, when his wife, an ER nurse (now retired), was traveling back and forth to Charlottesville, Virginia, at all times of the day and night.

“The reason we bought a GMC Envoy was because of OnStar — to have someone with her, within arm’s reach all the time,” he says. “I’m a believer. It’s been a lifesaver for a lot of people.”

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  • Visit onstar.com for coverage map, details and system limitations. Services vary by model. Service plan required.

  • 7,700-lb rating requires a properly equipped 2WD Canyon Elevation Crew Cab short bed model with available Duramax 2.8L I4 Diesel engine and Trailering Package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. See your GMC dealer for details. Click here to see all GMC destination freight charges.

  • Requires 4WD Double Cab with available 6.2L V8 and Max Trailering Package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Requires properly equipped 3500 Regular Cab DRW Long Box 2WD model with available 6.6L Duramax Turbo Diesel engine and gooseneck hitch. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • SLE models only.

  • 7,550-lb rating requires a properly equipped 4WD Canyon Denali model with available Duramax 2.8L I4 Diesel engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options oraccessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Requires 2WD Denali Short Box model with 5.3L V-8 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Requires properly equipped 3500 Crew Cab DRW Long Box 4WD model with available 6.6L Duramax Turbo Diesel engine and fifth wheel or gooseneck hitch. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Savana Passenger's 9,600-lb rating requires a 2500 or 3500 Regular wheelbase model with available 6.0L V8 engine and trailering equipment package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Savana Cargo’s 10,000-lb rating requires  the available 6.0L V8 engine and trailering equipment package.  Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual.  The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Savana Cutaway’s 8,940-lb rating requires a 4500 Series 159" Wheelbase model with available 6.0L V8 engine. These maximum payload ratings are intended for comparison purposes only. Before you buy a vehicle or use it to haul people or cargo, carefully review the vehicle loading section of the Owner’s Manual and check the carrying capacity of your specific vehicle on the label on the inside of the driver’s door jamb.

  • Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR). When properly equipped; includes weight of vehicle and trailer combination, including the weight of driver, passengers, fuel, optional equipment and cargo in the vehicle and trailer.

  • Maximum Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). When properly equipped; includes weight of vehicle, passengers, cargo and equipment.

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  • Sierra's 12,500-lb rating requires Sierra Double Cab or Crew Cab Short box 2wd with 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 engine and NHT Max Trailering Package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Trailer weight ratings are calculated assuming properly equipped vehicle, plus driver and one passenger. The weight of other optional equipment, passengers and cargo will reduce the trailer weight your vehicle can tow. See dealer for details.

  • Sierra Denali's 9,300-lb rating requires 2wd. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Savana Passenger's 10,000-lb rating requires 2500 Wheel Base with 6.0L V8 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Savana Cargo's 10,000-lb rating requires 6.0L V8 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • These maximum payload ratings are intended for comparison purposes only. Before you buy a vehicle or use it to haul people or cargo, carefully review the vehicle loading section of the Owner’s Manual and check the carrying capacity of your specific vehicle on the label on the inside of the driver’s door jamb.

  • Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR). When properly equipped, includes weight of vehicle, passengers, cargo and equipment.

  • Canyon’s 7700-lb rating requires 2WD Crew Cab model with available Duramax 2.8L I-4 Diesel engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Requires 2WD Crew Cab DRW equipped with 6.6L Duramax Diesel and fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitch. Trailer weight ratings are calculated assuming properly equipped vehicle, plus driver and one passenger. The weight of other optional equipment, passengers and cargo will reduce the trailer weight your vehicle can tow. See dealer for details.

  • Starting at price for base Sierra HD. The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. See your GMC dealer for details. Click here to see all GMC destination freight charges.

  • Requires properly equipped 3500 Regular Cab DRW Long Box 2WD model with available 6.6L Duramax Turbo Diesel engine and gooseneck hitch. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. See your GMC dealer for details. Click here to see all GMC destination freight charges. Bed/Roof-Mounted Bicycle Carriers shown. Requires crossbars or Thule Rack Solution. Non-GM warranty. Warranty by Thule®. See dealer for more information.

  • These maximum payload ratings are intended for comparison purposes only. Before you buy a vehicle or use it to haul people or cargo, carefully review the vehicle loading section of the Owner’s Manual and check the carrying capacity of your specific vehicle on the label on the inside of the driver’s door jamb.

  • Available. Requires 2.0L Turbocharged gas engine.

  • Terrain's 3,500-lb rating requires available 2.0L Turbocharged gas engine and available trailering equipment. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Requires available 3.6L V6 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Yukon’s 8,500-lb rating requires short wheelbase 2wd with 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 engine and HD Trailering Package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Requires 2WD Denali Short Box model with 5.3L V-8 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Savana Cutaway’s 9,006-lb rating requires a 4500 Series 159" Wheelbase model with available 6.0L V8 engine. These maximum payload ratings are intended for comparison purposes only. Before you buy a vehicle or use it to haul people or cargo, carefully review the vehicle loading section of the Owner’s Manual and check the carrying capacity of your specific vehicle on the label on the inside of the driver’s door jamb.

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