Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Call For Help

The worst thing you can do with a survival situation is to prolong it. The sooner you get rescued, the sooner you can remove the word survival from the description of the incident. And the fastest way to get rescued is to notify someone that you are in trouble. Even better is to let that person know exactly where you are, so the search teams don't have to waste time scouring the countryside looking for you.

Fortunately, we live in a day when technology gives us the ability to pinpoint our location. That's half of the problem whipped just by having a GPS. But that still doesn't solve the problem of letting others know that we're in trouble and need to be rescued. To do that, requires another piece of equipment that can send a message to a satellite system and beam our GPS coordinates to the rescue team.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is by using a device called the SPOT Satellite Messenger. This is the device I carry because it's multifunctional — it will track your movements, send a "checking in" message, send a "help" message, or call for rescuers to come and get you.

One of its functions is to keep track of where you are, and send this information to persons you have selected to be on your notification "team" back home. When you activate the tracking function, the device automatically sends your GPS coordinates every 10 minutes, and your team members can follow your progress on a Google map.

The second function allows you to send a personal pre-recorded message to your team. My message says, "Hey, just wanted to let you know where I am and that everything is okay here." That helps relieve stress at home while you're out exploring the backcountry.

Third is the function that calls for help. This isn't the button to push when your life is at risk and you need helicopters to come and pull you out. Rather, this is the function that sends a pre-recorded message that might say something like, "I need your help. Please come to the location shown on the Google map." You might use this one if you are in a moderate amount of trouble, but it's not yet worthy of a full-blown rescue team. You can't modify the pre-recorded message, so you can't specify if you've got a flat tire, run out of gas, or are just lonely and in need of some company. But if your team is reliable, they should show up and lend a hand with whatever is troubling you.

Finally there's the 911 button that calls for professional rescue. The satellite picks up this signal and relays your GPS coordinates to the GEOS International Emergency Response Center for processing. They, in turn, relay the information to the rescue organization nearest your location.

There are numerous stories about people who have been saved because they used this device, and countless others would have been saved had they been carrying it. I highly recommend that you examine the website at to learn more about this life-saving technology.

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