Satellite locators from SAR perspective

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arlohike
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Satellite locators from SAR perspective

Post by arlohike » October 29th, 2018, 3:41 pm

I'm hoping Lurch can answer this, or anyone else with SAR experience. I'm thinking about getting a satellite locator like the Spot X or Garmin InReach, but wondered if SAR teams really find these helpful. I imagine if they delivered an accurate location and the victim stayed there, they'd speed up a rescue significantly. But maybe there are other issues I'm not thinking about. I don't want to invest in something that only gives a false sense of security.

On a side note, I read that the Spot X locks the messaging functions once you trigger the SOS function. So you can't make an official call for help, then message your family to reassure them. Any idea why it would work that way?
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Webfoot
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Re: Satellite locators from SAR perspective

Post by Webfoot » October 29th, 2018, 5:19 pm

I own an ACR ResQLink which I believe emits directly on the international 406-MHz EPIRB frequency, rather than using a commercial constellation like Iridium or GlobalStar. I would be interested in a professional opinion on the benefit or disadvantage of this compared to SPOT and InReach devices.
Last edited by Webfoot on October 30th, 2018, 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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aiwetir
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Re: Satellite locators from SAR perspective

Post by aiwetir » October 30th, 2018, 8:32 am

I texted my SAR buddy last night
I looked into it about 4 years ago and went Spot, but I haven’t researched it in a while and things may have changed. But you’re right, something is better than nothing.
- Michael

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aiwetir
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Re: Satellite locators from SAR perspective

Post by aiwetir » October 30th, 2018, 8:42 am

arlohike wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 3:41 pm
On a side note, I read that the Spot X locks the messaging functions once you trigger the SOS function. So you can't make an official call for help, then message your family to reassure them. Any idea why it would work that way?
It says the messaging function is only locked out until you cancel the SOS, I would assume that SOS mode does something additional with the data or your location and messaging may interrupt the feature, maybe it's buggy and they aren't sure it's a good idea to mess with it, or that once SOS is activated it should be all that's going on and it's a safety feature that it's no longer a device to be used for anything but your rescue by a 3rd party.

You can cancel the SOS then redo it.

My take is that once you hit that SOS, you're telling everyone that you're screwed anyway, but yes, interesting choice.
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Bosterson
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Re: Satellite locators from SAR perspective

Post by Bosterson » October 30th, 2018, 8:49 am

Extensive discussion of this topic at NW Hikers. (Beware plenty of pointless online argument about risk compensation, etc in that thread. ;) )

The InReach Mini seems the best option from my research: you can turn the connectivity plan on and off so you only have to pay when you actually go on trips, you get a certain number of preset messages for free, and can send other messages through the app on your phone. If you don't need to be glued to your phone/device and just want something you can use to send a message in an emergency, it seems like a good choice.
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aiwetir
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Re: Satellite locators from SAR perspective

Post by aiwetir » October 30th, 2018, 9:30 am

SPOT X will... (in S.O.S. mode)... allow you to communicate 2-Way, via message, with GEOS IERCC by selecting the Text GEOS button.
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timbernet
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Re: Satellite locators from SAR perspective

Post by timbernet » November 1st, 2018, 2:53 pm

I've been in SAR for over 5 years in the area.

Absolutely they are great, they take the search out of search and rescue. Negatives can be false activation - been deployed many times to find someone only for them to be located at home a bit later.

Our team and many of our members use the Delorme/Garmin InReach - the new Mini is cool, but does rely on a cell phone more for sending messages. From a strictly SOS standpoint it is great.

The new Spot X is interesting, we have one member that has one - biggest advantage is they assign a telephone number to your unit for texting vs the InReach where people can reply to your messages, but you have to initiate the message thread first. No statically assigned number to your InReach.

Being able for you to pull weather updates, tell someone you are running late, etc - all worth it.

The wilderness is vast and if you are off a trail even a few hundred feet, your chances of getting found are really slim if there aren't good clues as to your plans.

Advantage of the ACR ResQ PLBs -- penetrate canyons and tree cover better due to the frequency they operate at. They also don't have a monthly fee. BUT they are one time use... activate and wait for rescue, but you can't re-use.

So pros and cons between the three (InReach, Spot, PLB) - but there is no con for having one and using one.

We've recovered over 13 bodies this year, so... be safe and have the right tools in your tool chest...

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Re: Satellite locators from SAR perspective

Post by Webfoot » November 2nd, 2018, 1:35 pm

timbernet wrote:
November 1st, 2018, 2:53 pm
Advantage of the ACR ResQ PLBs -- penetrate canyons and tree cover better due to the frequency they operate at.
Good to know, and reassuring in my choice of this device. I'm totally fine with one-time-use should it ever be needed.

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arlohike
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Re: Satellite locators from SAR perspective

Post by arlohike » November 2nd, 2018, 3:00 pm

Excellent, thanks for all the comments, especially from timbernet.
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