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Emergency Communication
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TOPIC: Emergency Communication
#224
Emergency Communication 5 Years, 7 Months ago  
Hello,

I was looking to get some feedback on emergency contact devices/methods. My current list includes:
  1. Cell Phone

  2. VHF Radio

  3. Trip itinerary with responsible person

  4. Spot or personal tracker

  5. Satellite Phone

  6. Nothing


I have carried/done all of the above although I have never actual used any. I have had friends use the following for rescues: VHF radios (x2) and cell phones (x3) with a run to the highway and drive for 30 minutes to get cell reception (2/3). Some basic pros and cons to get the discussion rolling

Cell Phone
  • Most people have one

  • Easy to use

  • Very simple and light

  • Coverage is limited to places like Yam, Lake Louise, Sunshine, etc


Sat Phone
  • Generally good coverage depending on functionality of satellite grid.

  • Easy to use

  • Very expensive considering most require a monthly subscription plus a high unit cost.




VHF Radio
  • Requires a course to obtain access to HAM frequencies. All other frequencies are licensed by Industry Canada (cheap but requires paperwork and licensing of radios rather than user).

  • There are a number of back-country HAM repeaters

  • Good for inter group communication in remote areas

  • Relatively cheap considering an iPhone is $700



Trip itinerary with responsible person
  • Cheapest option and relatively simple.

  • No one will come looking until after you are due

  • Search and rescue will not have an exact coordinate.




Personal Locator Beacon (SPOT)
  • Units are cheaper than VHF radios or Sat Phones.

  • Mostly work (I had spotty results for one tested in Nunavut and climbing destinations in the US... doesn't like cliffs)

  • Older models had a rated survival temp of -20C (new ones are -30C). I broke my older model the first winter I had it.



Any feedback would be appreciated.
Matthew Breakey
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Last Edit: 2012/10/22 20:30 By 66876.
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#225
Re:Emergency Communication 5 Years, 7 Months ago  
I know I'm suppose to edit my own post if my last post is the most current, but I don't think clutter is a bad thing at the moment.

I was looking into Sat phone options. TelAstra was commissioned to do a comprehensive 3rd party review of 3 phones in Nov, 2010 (2 with North American coverage). The relevant tested phones were the IsatPhone Pro and Iridium 9555.

The results were that the IsatPhone Pro was significantly better than the Iridium. Isat Phone taking the position of the now mostly defunct GlobalStar network. TelAstra basically concluded that the new Isat network was much better with fewer dropped calls and coverage than the Iridium network. I guess this makes sense because the Iridium network is using older technology and some parts are beyond design life.

Does anyone have any experience on this topic?

Considering an IsatPhone did better in the survival testing and is ~1/3 the price of Iridium plus had better network quality and coverage.
Matthew Breakey
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Last Edit: 2012/11/01 12:26 By 66876.
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#229
Re:Emergency Communication 5 Years, 6 Months ago  
Here's a related interesting YouTube video:



David
David Roe
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Last Edit: 2012/11/23 10:40 By davidroe.
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#238
Re:Emergency Communication 5 Years, 5 Months ago  
I should have differentiated SPOTs and PLB as they are completely independent systems although the cost and basic function is about the same.

PLB's are government run and are the legislated standard for aviation (all certified aircraft must carry one). PLB's are registered with CFB Trenton (www.cbr-rcb.ca/cbr/) and are monitored by the Canadian DND among others international government organizations. PLB's are typically designed as single use devices with long shelf lives. PLB's do not have an annual subscription.

SPOT's and other similar devices are operated by private industry. Many people swear by them and they have multiple message and tracking options. They have been very effective for a number of mountain rescues. SPOT's do have annual subscription fees and service is subject to the financial health of the provider.
Matthew Breakey
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#239
Re:Emergency Communication 5 Years, 5 Months ago  
Great info, Matt. Thanks.
David Roe
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#243
Re:Emergency Communication 5 Years, 5 Months ago  
I love my SPOT because it suits my activities.

I often hike around K-Country alone, or with friends. I often find my own routes to the summit, or the ridge, or up some drainage. I'm exploring, off-trail, remote. "Remote" means cell coverage is out-of-range, or is blocked by the mountain I'm exploring.

Meanwhile my wife in the city expects me to get back home. But what if I get lost or stuck somewhere? So I send her my SPOT messages during the day. All she needs really is an email at lunch-time, or when my route changes. Eventually I'll get back to the highway, and when I'm in cell range again I'll phone her to let her know I'm coming home.

Mind you, it won't work when it's blocked by trees, but I know that limitation, and it's easy to deal with.

The SPOT also provides that added security with its S.O.S. feature. I've never used it -- I don't want to -- but we know from other's experience that it works!
Daniel Cohen
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Last Edit: 2012/12/20 09:09 By 66524.
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