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Thread: GPS Trackers and Emergency Evacuation

  1. #1
    Registered User Mark H's Avatar
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    GPS Trackers and Emergency Evacuation

    Hi,

    I'm not certain how to start this discussion or exactly what questions to ask, so I'll just start.

    My wife and I are planning a trip to the US and although we have done motorcycling adventures before, but this time will see a little more off-roading, with detours into less travelled areas and more remote locations.
    Nothing too hardcore, but it does raise the spectre of what happens if we have an accident or there is an incident that leaves us stranded and out of cell phone coverage.

    Previously, we have been self-reliant and always thought that we would simply get ourselves out of any scrape.
    Last year, we travelled to northern India and up into the Himalayas where one of our team had a bad crash, smashing several ribs risking a collapsed lung with possible more serious internal injuries. It made me realise just how fragile the human body can be, hence my discussion topic.

    I'm thinking of getting one of those Satellite Tracking devices - possibly the Garmin inReach SE+ or them ore compact inReach Mini, but I'm not clear on how the rescue side of things works.
    We will have the general travel insurance cover, but for emergency assistance, evacuation and possibly recovery of the bike/s, I'm looking at things like Global Rescue.

    Does anyone have experience with these devices, the support plan, and understand how the parts fit together to provide the support and assistance in the event of things going bad?
    I appreciate that these are not inexpensive devices and services, but we believe in appropriate levels of insurance - just in case.
    Mark Hubble
    2015 - R1200GS Black Storm Metallic
    Sydney, AUSTRALIA

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark H View Post
    Hi,

    I'm not certain how to start this discussion or exactly what questions to ask, so I'll just start.

    My wife and I are planning a trip to the US and although we have done motorcycling adventures before, but this time will see a little more off-roading, with detours into less travelled areas and more remote locations.
    Nothing too hardcore, but it does raise the spectre of what happens if we have an accident or there is an incident that leaves us stranded and out of cell phone coverage.

    Previously, we have been self-reliant and always thought that we would simply get ourselves out of any scrape.
    Last year, we travelled to northern India and up into the Himalayas where one of our team had a bad crash, smashing several ribs risking a collapsed lung with possible more serious internal injuries. It made me realise just how fragile the human body can be, hence my discussion topic.

    I'm thinking of getting one of those Satellite Tracking devices - possibly the Garmin inReach SE+ or them ore compact inReach Mini, but I'm not clear on how the rescue side of things works.
    We will have the general travel insurance cover, but for emergency assistance, evacuation and possibly recovery of the bike/s, I'm looking at things like Global Rescue.

    Does anyone have experience with these devices, the support plan, and understand how the parts fit together to provide the support and assistance in the event of things going bad?
    I appreciate that these are not inexpensive devices and services, but we believe in appropriate levels of insurance - just in case.
    Smart questions to be asking. I can’t answer all of them, but I do know a bit about how the emergency response to a personal locator beacon (PLB) works, here in the USA.

    If a PLB is activated, the beacon location will be passed on to the appropriate/nearest emergency responders. This could be the Coast Guard or other marine patrol if the beacon transmission is from a location on the water. Or it would be passed on to state and local first responders if the location is on land. An effort is initially made to reach primary and secondary contact phone numbers to ascertain the nature of the emergency. Barring that, emergency responders are dispatched to the location to render assistance.

    Generally speaking there is no charge to the individual requiring emergency assistance, for the initial rescue operations, triage, and transport to hospital. These are borne by the US taxpayers, whether the individual is an American citizen or not.

    However, medical treatment at US hospitals is borne by the individual receiving treatment. So you are wise to investigate and purchase travel medical insurance for your visit. It would be smart to include “medevac” coverage in the policy, in case a serious injury requires that you be transported via air to a more advanced medical center than the one to which you were initially transported by emergency responders.

    I’m sure others will be able to offer more specific answers to your questions concerning specific hardware and plans. Sounds like a great trip!

  3. #3
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    In many cases if a helicopter is used to evacuate a patient from the scene of an accident the cost is borne by the patient. This can cost tens of thousands of dollars. This company offers the best coverage for medical transportation costs that I am aware of, and they have a good record of performance. They also offer short term plans which would seem to fit your needs. https://www.skymed.com/ I am not familiar with the company you mentioned, but you may want to compare coverage and cost.
    Kevin Huddy
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana

  4. #4
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    I don't have any experience with them but I see Spot trackers mentioned a lot.
    https://www.findmespot.com/en-us/
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  5. #5
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    From our Best of Forum section-
    https://forums.bmwmoa.org/showthread...POT-for-rescue

    OM
    "You can do good or you can do well. Sooner or later they make you choose." MI5
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  6. #6
    skibum69 skibum69's Avatar
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    I've been using a SPOT tracker for years and fortunately have never needed to press the 911 button. They have a new device that allows text messaging in the same vein as InReach. I was trying to remember the company Noah warned against in his RTW thread on ADV as apparently they left some members stranded somewhere. In the US you shouldn't have any trouble finding good coverage. As previously mentioned a helicopter evacuation could cost you a lot of $$ so that company is probably worth looking at. Many of those programs will work in Canada and the US giving you more freedom to wander around.
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  7. #7
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    Renting a satellite phone is always a good option.

    https://www.vzwsatellite.com/

    OM
    "You can do good or you can do well. Sooner or later they make you choose." MI5
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    2009 F800GS 1994 TW200

  8. #8
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark H View Post
    Hi,

    I'm thinking of getting one of those Satellite Tracking devices - possibly the Garmin inReach SE+ or them ore compact inReach Mini, but I'm not clear on how the rescue side of things works.
    We will have the general travel insurance cover, but for emergency assistance, evacuation and possibly recovery of the bike/s, I'm looking at things like Global Rescue.

    Does anyone have experience with these devices, the support plan, and understand how the parts fit together to provide the support and assistance in the event of things going bad?
    I appreciate that these are not inexpensive devices and services, but we believe in appropriate levels of insurance - just in case.
    Devices like SPOT and InReach are very useful for tracking, but should not be depended upon as frontline rescue equipment. Tracking has value in that it allows family and friends to follow along on your journey, provides an exact record of your travels, and can provide a jumping-off point and direction of travel in the event that you suddenly go incommunicado. If you wish to do tracking my recommendation would be to link your device (SPOT, InReach, or cellphone with Bubbler or SWConnect installed) to the excellent Spotwalla site run by Jason Jonas (https://spotwalla.com/). An example track of mine can be seen here. Once you build a "trip" file there it remains in place for future reference.

    Be aware that these devices are relatively inexpensive and as such, you should not expect a super-high level of reliability. These units can and do fail, with no warning other than a change of color on the blinking lights--which is useless for the colorblind among us. My wife and I had a SPOT unit fail during a Three Flags ride and traveled across much of lower British Columbia thinking our kids knew exactly where we were, when in fact the track had stopped before we even crossed into BC.

    SPOT has traditionally had a limited range of messaging, consisting of pre-formatted messages that can be sent from the device buttons. On mine, for example, pressing OK button sends a message of "Just checking in. If stopped I am getting food, fuel, or rest! Follow my trip at XXX". Pressing the HELP button sends "If you are receiving this I have had a breakdown or other problem. Please call ASAP XXX-XXX-XXXX". And of course, pressing the SOS button initiates a rescue routine. InReach and the newest SPOT device allow comms through your cell phone, which offers greater flexibility in messaging but also assumes you will be in a condition capable of communicating, or that another rider or passer-by will be able to deduce how to use your device to signal that help is needed. Lastly, the SPOT has generally been less expensive to buy and subscribe than the InReach devices, but since SPOT is now rolling out new devices and services that relationship may change. SPOT and InReach use different satellite networks and InReach, using Iridium, probably has the superior network.

    Always wear or carry your device, whichever one you choose, on your person and not your bike. There's a good chance that in the event of an injury crash you will be separated from the bike, and you may not be capable of getting back to the bike or digging through a tankbag or pannier to find your device.

    If you want a higher level of dependability WRT emergency assistance in the event of a crash or other major catastrophe requiring medical extraction, you really don't want to depend upon either SPOT or InReach--you want a PLB or EPIRB similar to this. These are one-time purchase, no annual fee, and generally have a 5yr lifespan before needing to be sent in for battery replacement, and I plan on carrying one when I ride Austraila someday.

    Lastly, medical extraction and transport services are a good idea. Just be sure to read the policies carefully, as most are quite explicit about the conditions required before they will dispatch air or other transport. And LifeFlight (Medivac) insurance to cover transport from crash site to trauma center is generally an entirely separate policy and coverage. READ the POLICIES CAREFULLY.

    The above is based strictly on my experience and opinion and likely worth whatever you paid for it...

    Good luck, and enjoy your ride in the US!
    Best,
    DeVern
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST — 1984 R80 G/S-PD — 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C — 2010 K1300GT — 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

  9. #9
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibum69 View Post
    In the US you shouldn't have any trouble finding good coverage.
    If you mean cell coverage, there's still plenty of areas with no coverage.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  10. #10
    skibum69 skibum69's Avatar
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    I meant medical/emergency coverage. Yes plenty of places without cell coverage including my house.
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  11. #11
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibum69 View Post
    I meant medical/emergency coverage.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  12. #12
    Here is my take on things. I see four specific topics to address. The first, satellite tracker or other emergency signal if in trouble. That is the original topic here and is being addressed. The trackers that can message such as SPOT and InReach are the most versatile. An emergency beacon is the most certain for rescue.

    The second topic is rescue/evacuation from the incident scene. This may well be by ground ambulance but it might be by helicopter. This can be very expensive. There are insurance plans to cover this. One I am aware of charges a modest membership subscription but for members agrees to accept whatever insurance pays and not to bill the customer/member further. Others are outright insurance.

    The third issue is what if transfer from one hospital (say the small local one they hauled you to first) to another. Medjet and Skymed cover this type of transfer.

    Fourth is the need for actual medical insurance to cover the costs of hospital, docter, and related medical bills seperate from transportation costs.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
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  13. #13
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    Here is my take on things. I see four specific topics to address. The first, satellite tracker or other emergency signal if in trouble. That is the original topic here and is being addressed. The trackers that can message such as SPOT and InReach are the most versatile. An emergency beacon is the most certain for rescue.

    The second topic is rescue/evacuation from the incident scene. This may well be by ground ambulance but it might be by helicopter. This can be very expensive. There are insurance plans to cover this. One I am aware of charges a modest membership subscription but for members agrees to accept whatever insurance pays and not to bill the customer/member further. Others are outright insurance.

    The third issue is what if transfer from one hospital (say the small local one they hauled you to first) to another. Medjet and Skymed cover this type of transfer.

    Fourth is the need for actual medical insurance to cover the costs of hospital, docter, and related medical bills seperate from transportation costs.

    SkyMed covers transport from accident scene to hospital, hospital transfer, hospital to home, traveling companion transport and motorcycle transport. If you have insurance that covers any of this then SkyMed pays whatever insurance does not.
    Kevin Huddy
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by akbeemer View Post
    SkyMed covers transport from accident scene to hospital, hospital transfer, hospital to home, traveling companion transport and motorcycle transport. If you have insurance that covers any of this then SkyMed pays whatever insurance does not.
    Excellent. Thanks for the info and clarification.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  15. #15
    The information contained in this thread is useful and should be "stickied" to allow easy future reference. I was particularly interested in learning about options for short term rental of sat phones and getting short term coverage for emergency evac services. This may be quite useful for those planning a longish ride out west this summer.

    I found a few websites that provide coverage maps for various cell phone providers -
    https://www.whistleout.com/CellPhones/Guides/Coverage
    https://www.cellularmaps.com/coverage-compared.shtml

    My primary cell phone is through AT&T, but they have very poor coverage along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the mountains in Virginia and North Carolina. Therefore I have obtained a pre-paid Verizon phone for emergency use (Verizon has pretty good coverage in most of the areas where I ride).

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