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#10287 - 01/25/11 08:49 AM Sequoia/Kings NP Advisory: SPOT emergency calls
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
From Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks:  ( Link is here )

Quote:
ADVISORY: EMERGENCY SATELLITE LOCATOR DEVICES

Using the SOS or 911 button on a satellite-locator device carries the same responsibility as dialing 911 from a telephone. Use these devices only to request help in a true emergency. Ask yourself, Are you willing to put other people at risk to solve your problem?

Please read this entire advisory before your trip in order to understand your responsibilities and the consequences of your actions. Know that rescues are risky to personnel and expensive to agencies.

Take note: Even if you activate the emergency beacon on a SPOT, PLB, or similar device, response may take longer than 24 hours depending on weather, time of day, your location, and other factors.

Responsibilities before leaving home:
  • Know and consider your personal skills and limitations in regards to your planned wilderness travel. Wilderness is a place for personal challenge, responsibility, and self-reliance.
  • Read the instructions for your device; keep them with you. Understand how it works and what services provided by the manufacturer must be activated and purchased. If required, register your device and provide all the information requested.
  • Some devices (e.g. SPOT) ask for a primary contact in the case of an emergency activation. Do not start your trip until that person has complete details, including:
    1. Your intended route; alternate routes you might take; when and where you plan to start and end; knowledge about your experience level; and gear you are taking.
    2. Full names of all members of your party and their emergency contacts.
    3. The difference between HELP and SOS/911 on a SPOT-type device: HELP does not indicate an emergency; it signals only your chosen contacts. They should know what to do if they receive a HELP signal (e.g., hike or drive to your location). The NPS will not respond to HELP as an emergency unless they have additional information. If you have a true emergency, activate SOS/911.
    4. How to access your tracking webpage, including login and password. Knowing your prior waypoints or tracking information may help NPS to respond.


Responsibilities during your trip:
  • Your knowledge, experience, and equipment will contribute most to your survival. Can you self-rescue or get help from other hikers? Do not signal SOS/911 unless it is a true emergency, but do not be afraid to signal if you know it is justified.
  • If you activate SOS/911 and it is safe to stay where you are, don't leave. It may be harder for rescuers to find you. Stopping the SOS/911 signal or activating the OK signal may not cancel a response, so stay in the areas where you activated the SOS/911 even if the emergency has passed.


Responsibilities after your trip or emergency
  • If you activated the SOS/911 but have not been contacted by NPS or other agency personnel, call the agency immediately once you are out of the wilderness; we may be looking for you. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks' 24-hour dispatch phone number is 559-565-3195.
  • Let your contact(s) know as soon as you are out and not in need of help.

Remember: Your locator device is only a tool. Activate SOS/911 only in a true emergency. In that event, the NPS will do everything possible to help you.

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#11041 - 02/22/11 01:41 PM Re: Sequoia/Kings NP Advisory: SPOT emergency calls [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
There was a discussion of SPOT vs Cell Phone on the PCT-l listserver, and I replied to it with a pointer to the above advisory.

Based on prior stories I have seen, part of my post was this:

Quote:
Learn when NOT to use it, like sending a 911 or HELP request without knowing what it will cause. 911 will always cause a ranger or SAR team to try to find you. HELP usually just sets your family to worrying. MAKE SURE you communicate in advance what a HELP signal means.

Ken Powers replied with this message:
Quote:
I read the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks web page about activating your Spot. One point I wish they would clarify:

"If you activate SOS/911 and it is safe to stay where you are, don't leave. It may be harder for rescuers to find you. Stopping the SOS/911 signal or activating the OK signal may not cancel a response, so stay in the areas where you activated the SOS/911 even if the emergency has passed."

Assume I send and SOS/911 then find the emergency has passed so I send an OK signal to cancel the SOS/911 signal. (Aside - I don't think emergency services will receive the OK message.) They say the signal MAY NOT cancel a response. They want me to stay in the area from where I sent the message. What if it does cancel the response and I stay in the area. So how long do I need to wait until I figure out that the OK message did cancel the response.

Just wondering.

Ken


I think the above is an interesting question.

And it also brings to mind a situation I believe George related: hikers on the JMT came to a water crossing where a hiker was stranded on a rock in the middle, and could not proceed or get to safety.

Other hikers used their SPOT and activated a 911 call. Another group came to the stranded hiker's aid, got him to safety.

In such a situation, if the 911 callers then press the OK button, that would imply to me there is no longer an emergency. Maybe a protocol could be developed for such a situation. I am hoping Ranger George might contribute here.

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#11055 - 02/23/11 09:27 AM Re: Sequoia/Kings NP Advisory: SPOT emergency calls [Re: Steve C]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
You're right. That should have been made clearer (though I think that was edited from my original...). At the moment, I'm pretty sure that once 911 is activated, there WILL be a response. So stay there or somewhere nearby that's safe. "OK" will not cancel an emergency response, assuming that's the only information transmitted (i.e. no text capability with an explanation or the family/friend doesn't have further information). So far, NPS and other agencies treat that as they would a 911 hangup. A response is still made.

Also, for SPOT, once a 911 activation is made, I think all further SPOT traffic is routed through SPOT until the emergency is cleared, so they'd see the "ok" and update the responding agency.

It's possible, though, that a response will be slower after an "OK" signal. I can imagine a supervisor switching from a helicopter response to sending someone on foot, depending on distance and information about the party that activated the 911.

The main point, though, is that the 911 activator has definite responsibilities once that button is hit. Finally, this whole response protocol is evolving but I think the above reflects a "Best Practice" for those using emergency locator beacons.

George
_________________________
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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#12064 - 03/25/11 12:49 PM Re: Sequoia/Kings NP Advisory: SPOT emergency calls [Re: Steve C]
Hortuna Offline
SPOT sales rep

Registered: 03/24/11
Posts: 2
Loc: Orange County, Ca
Please read: If you feel the need to test your Spot unit in SOS / 911 mode, YOU must call Geos Alliance "FIRST" at (936) 582-3190. With both parties clearly understanding the time and location in which the Spot unit is to be tested AND Geos is not working a true emergency at that time. You can test your device. Please note the dispatchers name whom you talked to prior to testing. Give the dispatcher your direct contact phone number to be reached when the signal is received.

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#12065 - 03/25/11 01:22 PM Re: Sequoia/Kings NP Advisory: SPOT emergency calls [Re: George]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 252
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: George

Also, for SPOT, once a 911 activation is made, I think all further SPOT traffic is routed through SPOT until the emergency is cleared, so they'd see the "ok" and update the responding agency.


I'd be interested in hearing more about this. When I bought my SPOT, I never read anything like this. It would be good to know if it were true.
_________________________
One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#12073 - 03/25/11 05:28 PM Re: Sequoia/Kings NP Advisory: SPOT emergency calls [Re: GandC]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
This is from a series of questions I sent to GEOS/SPOT last year. I'll try to post the entire Q&A a little later.

Quote:
** Do all subsequent signals, including OK, Tracking, and HELP go to IERC?

If the 911/SOS function is activated the IERCC will be able to view all additional functions leading up to the 911/SOS activation and any additional functions activated after the emergency activation until the incident is resolved on the IERCC's monitoring software.
_________________________
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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#12076 - 03/25/11 06:07 PM Re: Sequoia/Kings NP Advisory: SPOT emergency calls [Re: George]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 252
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: George
This is from a series of questions I sent to GEOS/SPOT last year. I'll try to post the entire Q&A a little later.

Quote:
** Do all subsequent signals, including OK, Tracking, and HELP go to IERC?

If the 911/SOS function is activated the IERCC will be able to view all additional functions leading up to the 911/SOS activation and any additional functions activated after the emergency activation until the incident is resolved on the IERCC's monitoring software.



That's really good to know George, thanks for sharing.

I've never used my SPOT for anything other than to send the occasional "Hi Honey, I'm still alive" message, and to track my routes just for fun. Here's hoping that trend continues.
_________________________
One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#16799 - 07/26/11 10:24 PM Re: Sequoia/Kings NP Advisory: SPOT emergency calls [Re: Steve C]
lynn-a-roo Offline


Registered: 08/14/10
Posts: 627
Loc: OrangeCounty

The July 2011 issue of Outside Magazine has a good article on SPOT emergency beacons, see link below.



http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/outdoor-skills/survival/Panic-Button.html?page=1

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#16800 - 07/26/11 10:45 PM Re: Sequoia/Kings NP Advisory: SPOT emergency calls [Re: lynn-a-roo]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Thanks for the link, lynn-a-roo. I recall that situation well.

Here's the wpsmb link 6-6-2009:  SPOT 911 call last week

And Katalina's Postholer journal writeup

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#16803 - 07/27/11 03:51 AM Re: Sequoia/Kings NP Advisory: SPOT emergency calls [Re: Steve C]
Fishmonger Offline


Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1033
Loc: Madison, WI
My Spot is on its last contract. I'm definitely moving to a sat phone. Spot was a good idea, but it simply is too primitive to work for all situations that may arise. It is better than nothing, but for the most part, it's just dead weight on the pack that when it comes down to an emergency, will put in a situation when the SPOT itself becomes problem: to use or not to use. That's just something I don't really want to deal with when things get ugly and I need some sort of help.

For example, when my daughter fainted in the middle of nowhere last year, I really didn't feel like calling in the rescue team, but I did want to talk to a nurse or doctor just to run this past them. Not gonna happen with one-way communication, and even texting capability the latest gizmos offer.

And then there is Spot's pathetic customer support, which has me wonder how organized that shop really is and if that would ever affect how a 911 call may be processed when it actually matters.
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#16808 - 07/27/11 09:33 AM Re: Sequoia/Kings NP Advisory: SPOT emergency calls [Re: Fishmonger]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 431
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Note that turning SPOT off (or having the batteries go dead) simply causes SPOT to stop sending SOS or other messages. However, pressing and holding the SOS button when it is in SOS mode sends a "Cancel SOS" message. This presumably means that you don't need a rescue after all. I won't speculate on whether "Cancel 911" will cause the authorities to cancel the rescue.

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