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Thread: Important information concerning depending on SPOT for rescue

  1. #46
    Novice Adventurer Newstar's Avatar
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    Hubby is on his way to Alaska and I just returned from MO. We both recently purchased SPOT for our trips. Assuming it works as it's supposed to, it is a comfort to have along in case of trouble. But it's also a source of comfort for friends and family to know that we've arrived and all is well.

    My one issue is that it does take a while for the notifications to be sent out once you press the button. There were a few occasions that were followed by phone calls asking if I've arrived. Apparently I was not holding the button long enough or not allowing enough time for the sattellite to read.

  2. #47
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Wow Bob, that sounds like third-world service in a so-called modern country. And that was then. Now it might even be worse considering the financial state the US is in.

    They have GPS coordinates and they are trying to figure out whose jurisdiction you are in?

    They can't convert between decimal degrees and degrees:minutes:seconds. Did these redneck hillbillies flunk simple math?

    I also would not be thrilled dealing with a company (which is a business) to relay info. When dealing with SARSAT, those are manned by the military, at least up here they are.

    I too called SPOT and COSPAS-SARSAT a few years back and had a long conversation, well at least with the SARSAT people (SPOT was not very forthcoming with technical information - why?). I even spoke to the SARSAT military in Trenton, Ontario. The info I accumulated helped decide between a SPOT and PLB.

    Although you did not have issues with the SPOT (you were in an open area), the system has drawbacks I am not willing to accept. When I need SAR, it means my life is on the line.

  3. #48
    Registered User amiles's Avatar
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    New things seem to pop up every day. Sadly, costs usually rule as to the training and response of all public agencies. Dispatchers and responders need to be trained in understanding and applying the emergency data sent to them in order to properly come to a user's rescue.

    Little by little there has been some backlash against those in "risk taking" activities whose mishaps result in huge costs for responding rescue agencies. It has become important for these agencies to try not to become liable for these huge expenses when they aren't even in their jurisdiction.

  4. #49
    Ritalin Poster Boy rob nye's Avatar
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    FWIW, I have a Delorme InReach. It is a great stand alone unit *and* I can interface it with my smartphone so I can send and receive custom text messages via satellite. I did a cross country trip a few weeks ago and it performed flawlessly.

    I received a spot for Christmas 2011 and it worked for a week. They sent me a new one and it never worked. I cancelled the service.

    As a pure rescue device nothing beats a 406 PLB, you can get ones that are smaller than a cell phone and could live in your jacket pocket.

    I see the InReach / Spot as a communications and tracking device that has a "911" button. IMO the focus of the product and the reason why the companies brought them to market is more the former than the latter. For this summer I will likely carry both the InReach and a PLB.

  5. #50
    Dee G flymymbz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by THEO View Post
    However, with a PLB, you'd be less likely to have the jurisdictional issues...or would they still exist?
    Probably. However, since the PLB's give better location data, it might cut down on some of the confusion.

    Last time I had to deal with SPOT, there was a bit of confusion as to who's jurisdiction the user was in. Up in the mountains, on a glacier that straddled the county line. SPOT only got three or four good signals from the unit, and it was really hard to tell where the guy was. The most accurate set of coordinates still had enough of an error that he could have been at the top of the ridge (our side of the line) or 700' down at the bottom (neighboring counties side of the line). And to top it off, it was snowing like a banshee up in the mtns. No one is going out in that.

    Turns out, the problem with the SPOT was, it got wet and it killed the batteries. It helped that it gave us a general idea of where the guy was, but once it got wet, it was useless. Lucky for the hiker, he had all the gear needed to survive overnight in a snowstorm. Sucked that he got soaked and psent the night shivering, but when you decide at the last minute to take a two day hike on a glacier in February and you neglect to look at the weather forecast.... Idjit.

    OTOH, there have been times that SPOT plotted exactly where the user was.

    Having been on the answering end of SPOT's and SARSAT's phone calls, I've decided that since my life may depend on who's picking up the signal, I'm going to spend the $$ and get a PLB. Yes, they cost a little more. No, they don't have all the fancy wizz bang extras. And no, you don't have to pay a yearly 'fee'.

    I may get a SPOT for the wizz bang stuff, but after spending 35 minutes on the phone with SPOT and having the guy be brutally honest about the units capabilities (crappy power output; thick overcast skies with heavy rain/snow? Unit spends more than a minute or two underwater? You're injured and under a tree? good luck), I am not going to trust my life to it.

    This is the one I'm getting.
    http://www.acrartex.com/products/b/o...rlink-view-plb


    You folks have to remember something about 911. Not every center has the capability to plot a GPS signal. We are fortunate enough to have a very nice mapping system on our computers, but it will only recognize the digital lat/long. But software like that costs $$. And I'd be SOL if we didn't have that as the mapping/conversion programs available online are 'Net Nannied' on the internet computers on the dispatch floor. I do keep an aviation Sectional chart for our area, but I'm the only one in the center that knows how to read it.

    however, if you get lost, hurt or in trouble in either of the two counties I dispatch for, you're in luck. Our SAR folk are AWESOME.
    Too damn many bikes to list

  6. #51
    Registered User Olsensan's Avatar
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    This is not the first time I have heard this type of story concerning SPOT. It provides a false sense of security at a premium cost and will, if it has not already happened cost lives. It would probably be a better idea to have a thread here and in ADVRider for injured riders to simply provide gps coordinates and a brief description of injuries and WE could take the initiative to render aid along with appropriate authorities if in fact they make the effort. This way there are no foolish issues of juristictional idiocy. I for one, having the time,training and concern would be more than happy to provide the time and effort to help fellow riders. I bet most of you would do the same too. Some may argue with this voluntary service but hey, at least someone could get out there and let the appropriate services directions.

  7. #52
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    All the suggestions posted so far sounds great to me. I would like to add one thing though.
    I think it would be good for us, all of us. To take it upon ourselves to educate the volunteer EMS responders in our home area. This would put first hand knowledge in the hands of the folks who will being coming to assist someone. It could be handled through local chapters in some cases with individuals volunteering for outlying areas. It could be as simple as calling the local fire and rescue in a town and asking to speak to the training officer. We might be able to give them the info to pass on or we may be able to be out on the agenda for a meeting and present the info to their members.

    Now the hard part for me to grasp is how will we get uniform information going to everyone? Does Spot have some info that could be used? Could the BOD come up witb a training packet? Do we need to include info for other location devices?

    It's just a thought. I certainly would not mind presenting to the numerous providers in my area. I think by doing so we as an organization may well get some good press out of it. And most importantly, it seems to me like something that needs to be done. These tyoes of devices are most likely not very well known to EMS providers in most areas
    I carry my Spot almost everytime i ride. I dont ride off road but i do live in a rural area. It gives me peace of mind. I also carry it with me on my boat. It's only a 30,000 acre lake,but if i have a problem i like knowing a can summons help. I had never considered how the system would tell someone where the distress call was coming from. Having been a member of a volunteer EMS organization in my younger days, i agree that the first group that received the call in your case dropped the ball. You don t stop looking until you find the victim.

  8. #53
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Nye View Post
    For this summer I will likely carry both the InReach and a PLB.
    Rob, which PLB will you go with, ACR, Microwave Monolithics or another brand? Any preference and why?

    Those are the two I am aware of. The MM is ultra small and very plain but seems to have great performance as far as battery life is concerned.

    There is a list of manufacturers on the Cospas-Sarsat site.

  9. #54
    Ritalin Poster Boy rob nye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalRider View Post
    Rob, which PLB will you go with, ACR, Microwave Monolithics or another brand? Any preference and why?

    Those are the two I am aware of. The MM is ultra small and very plain but seems to have great performance as far as battery life is concerned.

    There is a list of manufacturers on the Cospas-Sarsat site.
    It will definitely be an ACR. An ACR Firefly once saved my life and I have been using their products since I was a kid. I used to specify ACR for the ships and just about every recreational yacht I've sailed on uses ACR stuff. FWIW I was in the water off the east end of Long Island Sound at night and the firefly worked after being completely submerged multiple times. I've used ACR lights through hurricanes and they never missed a beat. Thankfully my father never let anyone on deck at night without their firefly, even if there was no wind.

    I'm ok with battery life of 24 to 36 hrs. The response time is swift enough that if they can't find me in 24hrs it's likely too late, i.e. they'll be looking for 23 of the 24. I may feel differently if was taking this out of North America. The key to owning a PLB is to make sure you register it and make sure the emergency contacts are people most likely to answer the phone. The first step after the signal is received is to reach out to the emergency contacts who will describe your trip, your bike and your gear. You sure don't get that with a spot tracker. Granted this requires regular communication with your EC or at least sending them a note before you leave so they can assist if necessary.

    I'm planning on mounting the In Reach where I can see it and carrying the ACR in my pocket. I really don't care about being able to see the InReach but I'm going to be required to provide my position on request 24/7 so I'll need to be able to visually confirm it's working.

    The scenario I fear is being hurt and separated from the bike. If I need emergency help nothing beats the PLB, but if I just break down all I need is text and the ability for friends and family to look at a map with my position. It will be a cold day in hell before I trigger a PLB over a flat tire 30 miles from pavement.

  10. #55
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Nye View Post
    It will be a cold day in hell before I trigger a PLB over a flat tire 30 miles from pavement.
    I would think an absolute-zero day in hell. Thats not what a PLB is meant for.

    I'll be packing an Iridium sat phone as well.

    As for break-downs in remote areas, I am always well equipped to handle anything but the worst-case scenario.

  11. #56
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alzyck View Post
    The I'm OK feature also lets me check in when I'm out of cell range.
    Just revisiting this since it popped up on the Best of the Forum...

    But there is no confirmation that the OK was actually received, is there?

  12. #57
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Having read many of the posts, the way I see it.

    Of utmost importance is having a device that works, hopefully 100% of the time under various conditions of cover and weather. Someone needs to get that first alert...from you.

    After that, jurisdictional issues are not a factor of either device if they are using the same responders.

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