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#311 - 10/20/09 03:57 PM Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here's an article from the Fresno Bee.  While he was working on the story, Marek called and asked if I knew any hikers who used a Spot Messenger.   cool

Sierra hikers misuse portable GPS trackers
By Marek Warszawski
           
The Fresno Bee, 10/17/09 23:23:05

Quote:
Saving yourself from danger in the wilderness used to require skill. Also plenty of effort.

Now, all it takes is the touch of a finger.

Press button. Distress call transmitted. Authorities notified. Help on the way.

When used correctly, personal locator beacons and satellite trackers greatly assist search-and-rescue efforts by providing exact GPS coordinates for a person who is lost or injured.

But as more people take these devices into the backcountry, more people are using them irresponsibly, say rangers at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Too often they decide to push a button instead of using their heads.

"We've had more illegitimate distress calls this summer than ever before, thanks to these gizmos," said wilderness coordinator Gregg Fauth.

Among the examples from this summer:

A Pacific Crest Trail hiker, frightened during a lightning storm, transmitted two 911 calls on her personal satellite messenger. A widespread search ensued, only for a sheriff to find her in Lone Pine several days later. She neglected to tell anyone she had gotten out.

Barely a mile from the trailhead, a Boy Scout troop sent a 911 emergency call because someone had sprained an ankle.

A 68-year-old-woman, backpacking solo in a remote section of the parks, sent an ambiguous "Help" message to her husband 15 times over a 12-hour period after falling and hitting her head. The woman never stopped moving, sending rangers on a needless chase, before she exited the wilderness on her own.

"We're going to respond, but we don't have the resources to be chasing people," said parks spokeswoman Adrienne Freeman. "Pressing a button is not the answer. Assessing risks is the answer."

Sequoia and Kings Canyon occupy 1,352 square miles of the Southern Sierra Nevada, 83% of which is designated wilderness. The jointly managed parks, visited by about 1.5 million people annually, contain the range's tallest peaks, including Mount Whitney, and the most remote river canyons.

Along with phones and GPS units, the introduction of satellite trackers and messengers for personal use raises the eternal debate over whether (or how much) technology belongs in the backcountry. And whether relying on computerized gadgets at the expense of tried-and-true backcountry skills somehow dilutes the experience.

"It should not replace basic skills like knowing how to use a map and compass or reading terrain," Fauth said. "And it shouldn't replace the basic reason why people go into the wilderness, which is about challenge and learning self reliance.

"Where's the sense of accomplishment if all you know how to do to get yourself out of trouble is push a button?"

How they work

Since purchasing his SPOT satellite messenger in June 2008, Steve Cosner never goes hiking or backpacking without it. Not only because he may need to summon help, but also to comfort his wife back home in Fresno when he's out rambling in the mountains.

Cosner's unit, the most popular in the marketplace, contains three function buttons labeled 911, Help and OK.

Press 911 and the GPS coordinates of your location are transmitted to the GEOS International Emergency Response Center, which in turn contacts local authorities.

Press Help or OK, and a pre-programmed e-mail or text message of your choosing is sent to up to 10 people. Help is designed for nonemergency assistance that could mean anything from "Send food" to "Pick me up a day early."

The OK button is to let folks on your list know all is well and also to provide a link of your location on Google Maps.

"It's a toy to tell folks where I am," Cosner said. "My wife likes to know. It gives her reassurance seeing where I am."

But even messages meant to reassure can put rangers in a tricky position. This summer, the mother of an 18-year-old solo backpacker called the park and demanded they start searching for her son because he didn't press the OK button on his SPOT device that day as promised, rangers said.

(No search was initiated because the hiker was not 24 hours overdue. He did not require help.)

"What happens when we lose the self-reliance factor in exchange for this technology?" Freeman asked. "If junior doesn't push his button because he forgot or he dropped it or the batteries ran out, it shouldn't be our problem."

Sequoia district ranger Dan Pontbriand was more blunt: "The parks are not a baby-sitting service."

That isn't all. Pontbriand also believes, as do many in his line of work, that satellite-based gadgetry can delude people who aren't experienced in the backcountry into making poor decisions.

In essence, technology doesn't make the wilderness safer. Wilderness is wilderness. Meet it on its own terms.

"People take risks they wouldn't normally take because they think these devices will just bail them out," Pontbriand said. "They say, 'I'll try to cross this fast-moving creek because if I slip, I can just push a button and someone will rescue me.'

"That's absolutely the wrong decision-making process."

Precision in rescues

Until SPOT, a subsidiary of Globalstar Inc., hit store shelves last year, personal locator beacons (PLBs) weren't as functional and cost several hundred dollars.

SPOT retails for $149, plus $99 for the annual service activation. Each unit weighs 7.2 ounces (a lighter second-generation unit was unveiled this month) and waterproof, making them attractive to boaters as well as backpackers.

And they have proven useful. According to company spokesman Derek Moore, SPOT has initiated more than 325 rescues in 51 countries during its first 11/2 years on the market.

"Many of those have been life-saving," Moore said. "We receive a lot of feedback from search and rescue agencies thanking us for bringing rescuers to within 28 feet of the victim by providing their GPS coordinates."

The product's terms and conditions, which also appear on its Web site (www.findmespot.com), clearly state the 911 function is to be used only in a life-threatening situation or as a last resort.

But Moore acknowledged that hasn't always been the case.

"With any safety device, the user needs to understand its functionality and intended use," he said. "People have to ultimately be responsible for themselves. The technology is there to enhance your experience and provide additional safety, but it's meant as a backup plan."

According to Randy Coffman of Shaver Lake, a retired national park ranger and search and rescue expert, no electronic gadget can ever replace backcountry basics like knowing how to use a map and compass, carrying a signal mirror or the ability to read terrain and conditions.

After all, it's wilderness. Batteries go dead, stuff has a tendency to break or become lost and rescue helicopters don't fly in bad weather. Even SPOT only transmits when the unit's antenna has a line-of-sight with a Globalstar satellite, which might not be the case if you happened to be at the bottom of a canyon.

"When people use these devices correctly and appropriately, it can help create a safe buffer for them," Coffman said. "But it should never be their sole reliance. It's just a tool in the box, not a magic answer."

Non-text-only version of the article is here.
keywords: SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger, SPOT Personal Tracker

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#318 - 10/21/09 06:21 AM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: Steve C]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2212
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
There is a write-up of SPOT misuse over on WPSMB
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

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#321 - 10/21/09 09:33 AM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: wagga]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: wagga
There is a write-up of SPOT misuse over on WPSMB


Here is the text from the NPS Morning Report, Wednesday, October 21, 2009:
Quote:
Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
Hikers Evacuated After Three SPOT Activations In Three Days

On the evening of September 23rd, rangers began a search for hikers who repeatedly activated their rented SPOT satellite tracking device. The GEOS Emergency Response Center in Houston reported that someone in the group of four hikers - two men and their two teenaged sons - had pressed the "help" button on their SPOT unit. The coordinates for the signal placed the group in a remote section of the park, most likely on the challenging Royal Arch loop. Due to darkness and the remoteness of the location, rangers were unable to reach them via helicopter until the following morning. When found, they'd moved about a mile and a half to a water source. They declined rescue, as they'd activated the device due to their lack of water. Later that same evening, the same SPOT device was again activated, this time using the "911" button. Coordinates placed them less than a quarter mile from the spot where searchers had found them that morning. Once again, nightfall prevented a response by park helicopter, so an Arizona DPS helicopter whose crew utilized night vision goggles was brought in. They found that the members of the group were concerned about possible dehydration because the water they'd found tasted salty, but no actual emergency existed. The helicopter crew declined their request for a night evacuation, but provided them with water before departing. On the following morning, another SPOT "help" activation came in from the group. This time they were flown out by park helicopter. All four refused medical assessment or treatment. The group's leader had reportedly hiked once at the Grand Canyon; the other adult had no Grand Canyon and very little backpacking experience. When asked what they would have done without the SPOT device, the leader stated, "We would have never attempted this hike." The group leader was issued a citation for creating a hazardous condition (36 CFR 2.34(a)(4)). [Submitted by Brandon Torres, Canyon District Shift Supervisor]


Another link: NPS Digest, Incident 4850

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#322 - 10/21/09 02:06 PM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: Steve C]
*JD* Offline


Registered: 10/13/09
Posts: 2
Loc: Crooked Creek
This is very BAD. When I was a climbing ranger a time long ago in a place far away, there was a report of an injured hiker. At that time our particular park didn't have a contract helicopter. The Coast Guard was called in with one of there BIG ships ('chopper). In the fog they ran into the side of a mountain. Four crew members lost there lives, the injured hiker walked out.

There is so much more to it than who is going to pay for it. You better be damn sure you CAN'T get out under your own power before you push that button or dial 911.

There is a good though very brief story on the cost of rescues to various National Parks in the last High Country News.

I can see in the future that when you get your backcountry permit you will be asked if you have a spot device. If you have one they will inform you that if the "rescue" button or whatever is activated you WILL be evacuated (none of this three time stuff). And that you may be charged and that it may cost you a 5 digit sum.

I'm sorry for the rant and I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir but this is something that hits way to close to home.

John

THINK BEFORE YOU PUSH
_________________________
www.johndittli.com

Walk the Sky: Following the John Muir Trail
http://johndittli.com/site/content/view/57/48/

Blog
http://dittli.wordpress.com/

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#323 - 10/21/09 07:38 PM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: *JD*]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2212
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
We are only months away from having a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) able to access satellite VOIP just like a cell phone - anywhere in North America. IHC ( Inexperienced Hiker Chump) will be able at to explain the exact problem to the Ranger via a 2-way conversation. End of problem. No choppers required.
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

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#325 - 10/21/09 10:37 PM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: wagga]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
I hope you're right, Wagga.

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#348 - 10/26/09 09:07 AM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here's an article from MSNBC:

Quote:
Tired from a hike? Rescuers fear Yuppie 911
Hikers are increasingly relying on personal locator beacons, just in case
AP Associated Press
updated 11:00 a.m. PT, Sun., Oct . 25, 2009

FRESNO, Calif. - Last month two men and their teenage sons tackled one of the world's most unforgiving summertime hikes: the Grand Canyon's parched and searing Royal Arch Loop. Along with bedrolls and freeze-dried food, the inexperienced backpackers carried a personal locator beacon — just in case.

In the span of three days, the group pushed the panic button three times, mobilizing helicopters for dangerous, lifesaving rescues inside the steep canyon walls.

What was that emergency? The water they had found to quench their thirst "tasted salty."

If they had not been toting the device that works like Onstar for hikers, "we would have never attempted this hike," one of them said after the third rescue crew forced them to board their chopper. It's a growing problem facing the men and women who risk their lives when they believe others are in danger of losing theirs.

Technology has made calling for help instantaneous even in the most remote places. Because would-be adventurers can send GPS coordinates to rescuers with the touch of a button, some are exploring terrain they do not have the experience, knowledge or endurance to tackle.

Yuppie 911
Rescue officials are deciding whether to start keeping statistics on the problem, but the incidents have become so frequent that the head of California's Search and Rescue operation has a name for the devices: Yuppie 911.

"Now you can go into the back country and take a risk you might not normally have taken," says Matt Scharper, who coordinates a rescue every day in a state with wilderness so rugged even crashed planes can take decades to find. "With the Yuppie 911, you send a message to a satellite and the government pulls your butt out of something you shouldn't have been in in the first place."

From the Sierra to the Cascades, Rockies and beyond, hikers are arming themselves with increasingly affordable technology intended to get them out of life-threatening situations.

While daring rescues are one result, very often the beacons go off unintentionally when the button is pushed in someone's backpack, or they are activated unnecessarily, as in the case of a woman who was frightened by a thunderstorm.

"There's controversy over these devices in the first place because it removes the self sufficiency that's required in the back country," Scharper says. "But we are a society of services, and every service you need you can get by calling."

'Crawled out'
The sheriff's office in San Bernardino County, the largest in the nation and home to part of the unforgiving Death Valley, hopes to reduce false alarms. So it is studying under what circumstances hikers activate the devices.

"In the past, people who got in trouble self-rescued; they got on their hands and knees and crawled out," says John Amrhein, the county's emergency coordinator. "We saw the increase in non-emergencies with cell phones: people called saying 'I'm cold and damp. Come get me out.' These take it to another level."

Personal locator beacons, which send distress signals to government satellites, became available in the early 1980s, but at a price exceeding $1,200. They have been legal for the public to use since 2003, and in the last year the price has fallen to less than $100 for devices that send alerts to a company, which then calls local law enforcement.

When rescue beacons tempt inexperienced hikers to attempt trails beyond their abilities, that can translate into unnecessary expense and a risk of lives.

Last year, the beacon for a hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail triggered accidentally in his backpack, sending helicopters scrambling. Recently, a couple from New Bruswick, British Columbia activated their beacon when they climbed a steep trail and could not get back down. A helicopter lowered them 200 feet to secure footing.

In September, a hiker from Placer County was panning for gold in New York Canyon when he became dehydrated and used his rescue beacon to call for help.

With darkness setting in on the same day, Mono County sheriff's deputies asked the National Guard for a high-altitude helicopter and a hoist for a treacherous rescue of two beacon-equipped hikers stranded at Convict Lake. The next day they hiked out on foot.

'Creating a hazardous condition'
When eight climbers ran into trouble last winter during a summit attempt of Mt. Hood in Oregon, they called for help after becoming stranded on a glacier in a snowstorm.

"The question is, would they have decided to go on the trip knowing the weather was going bad if they had not been able to take the beacons," asks Rocky Henderson of Portland Mountain Rescue. "We are now entering the Twilight Zone of someone else's intentions."

The Grand Canyon's Royal Arch loop, the National Park Service warns, "has a million ways to get into serious trouble" for those lacking skill and good judgment. One evening the fathers-and-sons team activated their beacon when they ran out of water.

Rescuers, who did not know the nature of the call, could not launch the helicopter until morning. When the rescuers arrived, the group had found a stream and declined help.

That night, they activated the emergency beacon again. This time the Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter, which has night vision capabilities, launched into emergency mode.

When rescuers found them, the hikers were worried they might become dehydrated because the water they found tasted salty. They declined an evacuation, and the crew left water.

The following morning the group called for help again. This time, according to a park service report, rescuers took them out and cited the leader for "creating a hazardous condition" for the rescue teams.


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#350 - 10/26/09 10:11 AM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: Steve C]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
I'm sure there are people who abuse Onstar and other systems. You can't make a device "stupid-proof". I wish there was a way to charge (and actually collect) when people do something this dumb. We'll see what if anything becomes of the charges........................................DUG

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#353 - 10/26/09 11:24 AM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: DUG]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2212
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
From the SPOT wiki entry:

"There is also an optional USD$8 per year insurance plan to cover private search and rescue costs, such as helicopter extraction, up to USD$100,000."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPOT_Satellite_Messenger
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

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#354 - 10/26/09 03:44 PM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: wagga]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Yuppie 911. I laughed when I read that earlier. I don't know if the primise is true that people take more risks knowing they have a way to call for help if they get in over their head.I think that people would have found some way to get out of trouble on their own if they needed to. I think the problem is the same one that has people who have no physical impairment having handicap parking plaques, they feel entitled to use any and all services availble including calling for a helicopter rescue if they feel threatened.

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#355 - 10/26/09 07:11 PM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: Rod]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Last year I had some hope for these gizmos, but this year (in Sequoia Kings anyway) they were definitely a pain and yanked rangers onto wild goose chases (including 2 instances of trying to find lost ones that were beeping out their pathetic little "Find me" signal.

Yuppie 911 is good, but I started calling it the "mommy button" when that PCT hiker started hitting hers last spring in a bad thunder/snow/slush storm.

I didn't know about the insurance. It should probably be mandatory with the sale and the agency reimbursed for any questionable calls. Proving a bogus one is really hard. I don't know of any that have ever happened.

That said, I also want to say that in a bunch of years doing SAR, I can think of only a very few bogus calls. Most people are really in trouble or reasonably believe themselves to be in trouble. One of the advantages of these gizmos is that they do allow a ranger to get to the person and make that determination (unless, of course, like the woman at Colby pass, who kept hitting her button but also kept moving. The rangers responding never caught up to her though they hiked about 20 miles from their station. Grrrrrrr!

George Durkee
_________________________
None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

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#356 - 10/26/09 08:27 PM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: George]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
This article/topic has worked its way out of the backcountry discussion circle into the mainstream media, as it was a featured NPR topic, tonight. As a solo hiker/Bp'r who carries a SPOT, I am finding myself to be even more diligent in my planning since this story broke, as I don't want to even consider the "mommy button" (love this) to be an option. This last summer,I found myself in the middle of a situation where one of the hikers in our group was suffering severe AMS(delirious), hypoxia(blue around the mouth, face, hands),& dehydration(from vomiting)while another hiker had SPOT, I think we were all stymied by "how bad IS bad enough for 911". Eventually, the hiker was stabilized by my force-feeding schedule of Gatorade/water; however, the period between delirium and stability was a long, scary period of time that could have ended very differently. Every so often I ask "should we have pressed the button?" It's easy to say "no" when I know the results. I hope to never be placed in that position again.

(BTW, there were much in the way of mistakes and bad judgement that allowed for the situation to escalate that the point that it did, however, my point of interest still lies with the "how bad is bad enough")

B
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#357 - 10/26/09 09:00 PM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: Bee]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
George, it is good to hear a park rangers point of view. Thank you.

Bee, I Googled NPR news, and their on-line article is the same one as the MSNBC article above. Were they also discussing it on the radio?

I am glad your emergency situation turned around. But this summer, two other hikers died at lower elevations than yours from AMS, one out of Horseshoe Meadows, and the other just over Paiute pass. Anyone delirious at altitude probably should be evacuated.


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#358 - 10/26/09 09:35 PM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: Steve C]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Steve,

They had an on-air interview with a SAR individual based out of Awahnee(Yosemite) You could tell that he had had quite the fill of "mommy button" nonsense.

I will be second-guessing myself for the rest of my life, as far as the care and feeding of a sick hiker, goes.

B
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#359 - 10/26/09 10:17 PM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: Bee]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
> You could tell that he had had quite the fill of "mommy button" nonsense.

Maybe laws will be changed as a result.

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#360 - 10/27/09 07:42 AM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: Bee]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
Originally Posted By: Bee
This article/topic has worked its way out of the backcountry discussion circle into the mainstream media, as it was a featured NPR topic, tonight. As a solo hiker/Bp'r who carries a SPOT, I am finding myself to be even more diligent in my planning since this story broke, as I don't want to even consider the "mommy button" (love this) to be an option. This last summer,I found myself in the middle of a situation where one of the hikers in our group was suffering severe AMS(delirious), hypoxia(blue around the mouth, face, hands),& dehydration(from vomiting)while another hiker had SPOT, I think we were all stymied by "how bad IS bad enough for 911". Eventually, the hiker was stabilized by my force-feeding schedule of Gatorade/water; however, the period between delirium and stability was a long, scary period of time that could have ended very differently. Every so often I ask "should we have pressed the button?" It's easy to say "no" when I know the results. I hope to never be placed in that position again.

(BTW, there were much in the way of mistakes and bad judgement that allowed for the situation to escalate that the point that it did, however, my point of interest still lies with the "how bad is bad enough")

B


B - I wish I was a POC on that help button - I would have come in and taken her out. Bummer about how that whole deal went down and the DRAMA that came of it.

Anyway - bad enough to me is the same as before I had the SPOT - Can I possibly get myself out? Will I die out here or be disabled if I don't get some attention quick? I got pretty sick on my big hike this year and came out 14 hours late. I NEVER thought of pushing the button because I could still move - just slowly and everything sucked. What made the SPOT worth the money was the tracking feature and the HELP button. My wife knew "about" where I was (SPOT is a lil wanky sometimes) and I set the HELP message to say "Running Behind". She knows the is nothing to worry about as long as I don't hit 911 - no matter how late I am.

Some people run into problems because they don't explain to the folks at home that there may be times that a message doesn't get out. The tracking may be off by miles. If you make that clear and understand it yourself, the SPOT is a very useful tool.

If the time comes that I push the button - they better bring a helo cuz I'm gonna need it..........................DUG

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#361 - 10/27/09 08:10 AM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: DUG]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
It is a complicated issue but it is just like life. There are those who use common sense and those who haven't a clue the impact that their actions have on others. I have a lot of firefighters/paramedics patients. One complaint I hear over and over from them is the peson who calls 911 at 4 AM because they have a cold or the flu.When asked how long they have been sick they say since yesterday morning when they could have gone themselves during business hours to a walk-in or doctors office. No they wait until 4 AM and get the big expensive ride to the big expensive ER.
It only takes a few who are irresponsible to ruin it for everyone.
The complicated issue is for those who hike alone.When are you sick enough or hurt enough to call for help?If you are alone and are suffering AMS or have had a head injury are you capable of making that decision clearly?
If you are with a group who makes the decision for someone else to call for help? What criteria makes that decision be absolutely necessary? Is help absolutely necessary or convenient?

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#363 - 10/27/09 09:39 AM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: Rod]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
DUG, I like your "Running Late" message as the optional message. Before I paid for the Tracking feature, I used it as a tracking feature, since it sends its message repeatedly for an hour, similarly to Tracking (for 24 hours). I may go back to that mode, since I see they have raised the Tracking price to $50.

And your criteria for deciding when to press the 911 button is good: "Can I possibly get myself out? Will I die out here or be disabled if I don't get some attention quick?"

I have a question about your hike when you got sick: Did your brother have his own transportation out of Roads End? And your wife was already planning on picking you up? Or did your getting sick cause a scramble for alternate transportation?

And here's an important note about using the 911 button: Along with authorities being notified, it will send email to those on your alternate (help) message email list. But it will NOT show your location on the Google map where it shows your Tracking and Help locations. I emailed the Spot people about that, and they cited privacy issues. I know for myself, if I pressed 911, I'd want as many people as possible to know I was in trouble.

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#365 - 10/27/09 10:59 AM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: Steve C]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
Originally Posted By: Steve C
DUG, I like your "Running Late" message as the optional message. Before I paid for the Tracking feature, I used it as a tracking feature, since it sends its message repeatedly for an hour, similarly to Tracking (for 24 hours). I may go back to that mode, since I see they have raised the Tracking price to $50.

And your criteria for deciding when to press the 911 button is good: "Can I possibly get myself out? Will I die out here or be disabled if I don't get some attention quick?"

I have a question about your hike when you got sick: Did your brother have his own transportation out of Roads End? And your wife was already planning on picking you up? Or did your getting sick cause a scramble for alternate transportation?

And here's an important note about using the 911 button: Along with authorities being notified, it will send email to those on your alternate (help) message email list. But it will NOT show your location on the Google map where it shows your Tracking and Help locations. I emailed the Spot people about that, and they cited privacy issues. I know for myself, if I pressed 911, I'd want as many people as possible to know I was in trouble.


Steve - We each drove to the park. I came up from down south and the guy I hiked with is out of the Bay area. Usually my wife drops us off and picks us up, but usually we start on the west side and come out at the portal. This time we did a loop and ended up back where we started. My plan was to get out and sleep for as long as it took to be safe to drive myself home. Since I got an extra bivey night below Granite I was rested enough to drive out when I got done hiking. Besides, I was so pissed when I hit Fresno and found out what happened I didn't need anything to keep me awake.

I set my HELP message to say different things depending on the hike. For my aboarted Gambler's hike it said - "Aborting Hike". We used that message. Once we got to the visitor center I called my wife who changed it to say RUNNING BEHIND for our Whitney hike.

Raised the tracking price? I thought it was always 50?.................................DUG


Edited by DUG (10/27/09 03:57 PM)

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#371 - 10/27/09 02:41 PM Re: Article: SPOT Satellite Tracker [Re: DUG]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 172
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
I guess we all have stories where a decision is made whether we consider ourselves in danger or not. Here is my story:

Like many of you, I have a SPOT and purchased it for those times I solo hike. I have been backpacking since 1965 (44 years).

The story below is about a situation that I had a couple years ago and never considered using the 911 button... it's a little long.

It was September of 2007 and I had planned a second year of cross country hiking (the previous year I broke off from the JMT at the Center Basin Junction and headed up and over Junction, Shepherd, Rockwell Pass to Wallace lake exiting Trail Crest).

I had planned to do the same trip with a couple different variations.

The first day was brutal; I was struggling to get over Keasrage Pass. My energy level was non-existent, my breathing was labored. I'd take a few steps and stop to breathe; take a few steps and again stop. Just before the pass, a friend that was day hiking with me took my pack and I finally made it to Keasarge Pass, more tired than I ever have been; but I made it (I might add that the pass year saw a broken bone in my foot that caused me to stop running for 7 months. I knew that I was out of shape and it showed. That was the reason, right?).

I wasn't terribly worried about my performance on the first day since I have labored in previous years, but rebounded the second day and all was good.

I reached Kearsarge Lake and made camp and went for a long swim. Usually the swim invigorates me and sets me on the road to feeling good. This time was different. I couldn't quite put a reason on it, but I was really weak and tired. Okay, maybe I need a little more acclimation.

The second day took me down toward Bullfrog and down toward Vidette Meadows. It was downhill but that didn't seem to matter. At Vidette, I sat down next to the bear box that I normally stop at. I was exhausted. I tried to eat my way into feeling better since again, I had no energy. Finally, I decided to set up my tent and crash for a while hoping that something would kick in and I'd be on my marry way. Three hours later I decided that sitting, doing nothing wasn't going to get me to my next destination, Center Basin Junction.
I packed up the tent and started up the canyon toward Forester Pass and the Center Basin cutoff.
It wasn't long before I hit the wall; no energy, no stamina, breathing was labored... I'd take 10 steps and stop for several minutes. I repeated this scenario until I reached my destination.
I set up camp and started to question going on. I meet some really nice hikers and decided to take the next day off and see if I could revitalize myself. I laid around camp eating as much as I could and trying to figure out what was going on. I also decided to change course and head over Forester Pass. I figured that I would be on the main trail if something happened.

The nice hikers, 6 of them, were producer types. One, a Mark Krenzien (google him) gave me the keys to his Mercedes SUV since they felt I should hike out. I ended up hiking with them the next day, but at treeline, I called it a day and made the decision to hike out. I ended up hiking out the same way I came in.

Well, it took me three days to make it out, but I never considered hitting the 911 button. I never felt that I was in seriousness enough situation or danger to use my SPOT. I actually felt comfortable the whole time (maybe a little peeved at my abilities on the hike).

Part of the reason that I feel so comfortable is that I have made so many trips over the years, I know where everything is (but that maybe somewhat foolish..... a false sense?)

Well, that's my story.

paul

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