It's kinda hard for me to keep this from turning into a 'soapbox' on this subject. With the increasing popularity of SPOT, cell phone apps, PLB's, handheld GPS, etc,etc - there is getting to be definable portion of the population that relies on them while pursuing their leisure time activities. Hunters, riders, hikers, etc are relying on what they think the 'be all - end all' of rescue initiators. The problem with that is there has been no education/training of a very large segement of the First Responder community.
Clay and Alex touched on just 2 of the problems with location of an electronic signal when the person responding isn't knowledgable in the vagaries of nav notations. And it is illogical to think that every person, in every agency SHOULD have this knowledge.
So, back to the OP's original concerns - what to do?
First - there is no guarantee (ever heard that before?).
Next, cover as many of your own bases as possible. If you use a SPOT or other app that periodically updates a web service - be sure that you give the web address to a few people who can track your position. Personally, I like for that person to be an obnoxious, hard headed type that has no problem calling the local Sheriff and telling them "NO! I am showing him about 50 yards south of county road xxx, a half mile west of where it crosses Muddy Creek. I don't care what they told you, send somebody to take a look right there!" Show one of your contacts how to enter LAT-LONG into Google maps. Why Google? It is almost impossible to enter the data in a format that it will not convert to a physical location. Be suspect of ANY device. Obviously if you are seeing a location in Zimbabwe when you know the lost person was in Wyoming 2 hours ago, there will be some question about the accuracy of the data, but be just as suspicious of ANY data unless it is coming from the middle of the Great Plains on a clear, sunny day. Trees, gulleys, weather and a hundred other things can cause errors.
I'm gonna stop here cause I just realized how much I am turning this into a boring, repetitous diatribe. There are some very knowledgable people who can say a lot more than me, and probably better - so if the OP and others want to start a discussion of devices and how they can be EFFECTIVELY used I would be happy to join in.
Just remember - there is a reason it is called SEARCH and Rescue instead of just Rescue.
Its getting better, but still not perfect.
I keep an aviation sectional chart in my locker, just in case the computers take a dump and we need to get a general idea of where someone is at. Sad thing is, there are only two or three dispatchers that can figure out how to find a lat long on a map. ~sigh~
On the bright side, the five times I've gotten calls from the SPOT people, the users are found pretty much where the SPOT says they were. Sadly, two of them were recoveries instead of rescues. But at least SPOT got the signal out. No cell phone coverage in the middle of the Cascade Range.
Too damn many bikes to list
PLB users I assume carry their units on their person? SPOT users I assume have their units mounted to their bike?
PLB only will work if you're conscious and able to press both buttons. With the PLB, I like the idea of the Calvary riding over the hill to the rescue. SPOT works well for family tracking and sending a non-emergency trouble message. If I'm out of cell range and I don't send an I'm OK, they have an idea of where I'm at.
I got the PLB first. I decided to get a SPOT for the tracking feature after I read the threads on various m/c boards about the search for Donald Masters. Went missing August 31st 2009 on a road trip heading back home to Denver. Was found three weeks later by some hunters. Covered by brush and not visible from the road. They had his last credit card gas purchase and had him on a traffic cam, but after that nothing. The tracking feature of SPOT may not have saved his life, but it would have allowed narrowing the search. Might have been a lot less grief for his family. That's what swayed me.
Sure, you have to be able to activate a PLB. If I can't activate it because I am down and out, chances are I'll be dead long before help arrives. I'd sooner reply on a unit with better coverage and signal strength for the signal to actually make it through to a monitoring station not monitored by Ma and Pa Kettle.
I wasn't in the least impressed with the SPOT conversation I had when asking for some hard numbers (specifications) and how the system works.
The guy at the SARSAT monitoring station was as bored as a Maytag repairman and was happy to chat with someone...for 40 minutes.
With a PLB, your personal data is entered in the system and kept on file with numbers to contact as well. They also insist that you call in and update information as often as possible, for example, if you are heading to Iceland for a month, call that in and they will note it on file.
I would prefer that freighter be watch'n as well as your friends and family on that IP 380 then relying on SPOT..
Last edited by Clay; 04-18-2011 at 12:53 PM.
It is very handy to have as it give you the heading, speed and CPA (closest point of approach) of the other vessel.
In the 08 Bermuda Race I contacted a container ship over 30 miles away as AIS indicated our CPA was inside .5 miles. He was aware of us, we were of him and after a quick chat on the radio he was kind enough to cross our stern rather than ahead which if you're on a sailboat race is a nice favor, plus he opened up the CPA a bit as neither of us was comfortable with the spread.
..automatic activation of 911 with lat./lon. coordinates after a bike goes down and when the rider's cell phone is not answered
First the main number on their website is disconnected.
Second, on their contact me page the key folks (CEO, COO, CIO, CTO etc) all have different area codes...
And the deal breaker...
It appears to use cellular to call in the "event", then someone from the service provider (yup the ones with a disconnected main number) calls you, if no answer they call 911.
I bet that will bring help "real quick".
Bottom line if you want SAR to come you need a 406 eprib or PLB (in my book they are the same, they transmit on 406) and the 125 for close in SAR.
Nothing else short of calling 911 yourself will get EMS dispatched faster.