PORTLAND, Ore. (Pamplin Media) — If your car slips into a ditch or you get stuck in the snow, you no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars to a towing company to get back on the road in Oregon.

A group of almost 5,000 volunteers has formed as Oregon Off Road Recovery to help people when stranded throughout the Pacific Northwest. Donations are accepted to maintain this free service.

Adam Woodbury, a co-founder of the group, said Oregon’s off-road community wanted to unite a few years ago for a common good. Woodbury estimates Oregon Off Road Recovery is helping two or three people a week, but the service is looking to expand in Oregon and other states throughout the U.S.

“It’s always bad to get stuck, but we enjoy being that person who comes over the hill and provides relief to a stranded family,” Woodbury said.

Oregon Off Road Recovery now has a mobile web app where stranded people can make recovery requests. To use the app, you accept terms and conditions indemnifying volunteers in case of a mishap and then allow the app to locate your device, which sends GPS coordinates to potential rescuers.

Simple beach winch out, remember to let your air pressure down, undated (Pamplin Media)

Volunteer rescuers are organized into local chapters and teams to coordinate recoveries in various locations throughout the Northwest.  Together with corporate sponsors, Oregon Off Road Recovery volunteers assist in search and rescue efforts though local law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Forest Service, BLM and the Oregon Department of Forestry. 

If you’re stranded in a location without cell phone service, you can use a digital ham radio or a Garmin satellite communicator to send a text including your GPS coordinates requesting a rescue. Rural, publicly owned areas are the primary target for Oregon Off Road Recovery, since state law prohibits volunteers from performing rescues on roads within city limits. Rescuers can help you if you’re stuck on private property, however, as long as it’s your property or you have permission to be there.

Pamplin Media Group Webmaster Alvaro Fontan, who volunteers with the group as a rescuer and technical consultant, has recommendations to help prevent tragedies.

“Bring plenty of water and don’t go alone if you’re heading out into the woods or snowy conditions,” Fontan said. “I always have a week’s worth of food and water in my Jeep.”

Oregon Off Road Recovery strives to help educate the public on how to be prepared when traveling with blog posts on topics like what gear to bring and how to safely winch. Regular hands-on training sessions throughout the state are planned.

Oregon Off Road Recovery

What: A web application to call on the help of volunteer rescuers.

Co-founders: Alvaro Fontan, Tyson Hunter, Carlin Ray, William Ryan VanRoy and Adam Woodbury

Online: oregonoffroadrecovery.com

Outside of cell phone range: Send a text requesting a rescue including your GPS coordinates to 503-877-5263

Sponsors: Pamplin Media Group, Rugged Radios, Tuff Stuff 4X4, 4 Wheel Parts Tigard, Last US Bag Company

Paul Morgan part of Oregon Off Road doing a swinch out, undated (Pamplin Media)