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  • Emergency Services when out in the middle of nowhere.
  • Premier Icon Beagleboy
    Full Member

    I was just having an ….erm…lunchtime meeting with a retired colleague of mine in Tennent’s bar and he was going on about the fabulous solo adventures he’s been having in the hills recently. He’s an experienced mountaineer, but maybe not the most tech savvy, and did express a wee bit of concern over the fact that as he’s walking mid-week, most of the time he’s the only person on the hills, with his dodgy hip. This got a memory jiggling about in the back of my head about a discussion that I had with someone a few years ago, about a fancy new mountain rescue contact service. In my head, this service was a bit better than 999 as it had more coverage and could even broadcast a message when there was no coverage. Have I had a few too many refreshments and just imagining this?

    I know that 999 and 112, the European equivalent, will both hunt around for a signal, but I seem to remember that this was some sort of service that you had to register for and gave better mobile coverage in the hills. The only thing I can find is the EmergencySMS service, but I don’t think that’s it.

    Any ideas, or should I just ease off on the Pedigree at lunchtimes?

    Premier Icon perchypanther
    Free Member

    You’re maybe thinking of “Calling International Rescue” by Fuzzbox ?

    Premier Icon hodgynd
    Free Member

    Stick with the Pedigree..it is the emergency sms service you are thinking of …

    Premier Icon paladin
    Full Member

    999 and 112 are the same in the uk, you can call them on any available network.

    Emergency services cannot call you If you are not on your home network.

    If you have no signal , you cannot call them, they cannot call you.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Full Member

    Something like a Spot tracker can send an emergency signal where there’s no cell coverage I believe. No idea how it works though, so could be mistaken!

    Premier Icon ahsat
    Full Member

    I think you are thinking of the emergency SMS http://www.emergencysms.org.uk/ which still goes to 999/112.

    It is generally meant for deaf/hard of hearing people; but there was a view that you can often get just enough signal somewhere to send a text, even if you can’t make a phone call, which is why it is sometimes suggested for use in the hills.

    EDIT: see this was already mentioned above!

    Premier Icon welshfarmer
    Full Member

    If you contact Mountain rescue by mobile these days and have a mobile data signal (yeah right!) they will get you to download an App known as SARLOC

    http://www.go4awalk.com/the-bunkhouse/walking-news-and-discussions/walking-news-and-discussions.php?news=710222

    Premier Icon wwpaddler
    Free Member

    For places that don’t have mobile cover you need to be looking at Spot trackers (there’s a rival brand as well – starts with a D).  You have to buy a unit and pay an annual subscription – allows you to send and receive texts via satellite and the GPS in it can let people track your location.  Also sends an SOS to an American company who should contact the rescue service in your country but only sends the SOS once and if you move then the helicopter can’t find you.

    If you don’t want / need 2 way communication then look at PLBs (Personal Locator Beacon).  Basically press the help button and it sends an SOS message with your GPS location to the rescue service who send a helicopter.  It also transmits another signal which the helicopter can lock onto to find you – useful if your position changed.  With this system you don’t know if you’re SOS has been received but it continually transmits your SOS until the battery dies (24-48hours).  Look for Mcmurdo Fastfind Ranger or Ocean ? RescueMe.

    Premier Icon simon_g
    Full Member

    Spot trackers use Globalstar, one of the satellite phone networks, so they can work where there’s no regular mobile phone coverage. It’s why there’s a hefty annual fee for them.

    Premier Icon whitestone
    Free Member

    You don’t need to download the app. They send you a link which if you click/open it uses your phone’s location services to automatically reply with your location. Obviously you have to have location services turned on.

    If you’ve a generic GPS device rather than a bike specific one then you can set up how it displays your location – there’s a few options but one of them is GB OS grid. I think it’s a ten figure grid ref. On my Garmin Oregon it’s hidden away in one of the menus.

    I had to call MRT out a couple of years ago for a walker who’d broken her ankle so went through all this.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Free Member

    ahsat wrote:

    I think you are thinking of the emergency SMS http://www.emergencysms.org.uk/ which still goes to 999/112.
    It is generally meant for deaf/hard of hearing people; but there was a view that you can often get just enough signal somewhere to send a text, even if you can’t make a phone call, which is why it is sometimes suggested for use in the hills.
    EDIT: see this was already mentioned above!

    It’s an accurate view – you just need a signal for a few seconds for a text to get through – if the signal is dropping in and out you can generally still use SMS when voice calls are impossible.

    Premier Icon trail_rat
    Free Member

    If your phone genuinely has no signal it really has no signal.

    It will say emergency SOS only if it has a signal (apple and android anyway)

    Similar to whitestone I had to raise alarm a couple years ago for a German tourist with a broken ankle at fords of Avon refuge….

    There was no signal on ee/voda/02 not even sos call..

    Had to use the payphone at Inverey

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    Don’t discount the old skool method.  Tell someone where you are going and when you are due back

    Premier Icon CountZero
    Full Member

    Don’t discount the old skool method. Tell someone where you are going and when you are due back

    My first thought. Along with perhaps a colour copy of the section of OS map with the intended route clearly marked with a highlighter, that way the rescue services have a much better idea of where to look, rather than several hundred square miles of random geography.

    Premier Icon scuttler
    Full Member

    Damn you old school tech-less waterproof heretics.

    Premier Icon poly
    Free Member

    My first thought. Along with perhaps a colour copy of the section of OS map with the intended route clearly marked with a highlighter, that way the rescue services have a much better idea of where to look, rather than several hundred square miles of random geography.

    The RYA provide an app for sailors which allows you to record a route plan and then whenever you have signal it updates your position.  If you don’t report back by your pre agreed time it automatically alerts your shore contact AND makes the plan and most recent position information available to the coastguard.  Not sure if anyone does something similar in the hills.

    having the plan is really helpful, but it doesn’t account for you getting lost, or changing your mind at lunchtime because the weather was awful etc.

    Premier Icon poly
    Free Member

    For places that don’t have mobile cover you need to be looking at Spot trackers (there’s a rival brand as well – starts with a D).  You have to buy a unit and pay an annual subscription – allows you to send and receive texts via satellite and the GPS in it can let people track your location.  Also sends an SOS to an American company who should contact the rescue service in your country but only sends the SOS once and if you move then the helicopter can’t find you.

    the other product is a Garmin offering (called something like Delarme) whilst the message is only sent once, there is nothing to stop you resending it.  They both also offer the ability to send an “Ok” message which is useful if you have simply been delayed and want to reassure your contacts that you have not got in serious trouble.

    Premier Icon Brainflex
    Full Member

    Are PLBs (Personal locator beacons) available? These are buy once and keep handy devices that have one button. They are used in oh shit moments and send an sos signal via satellite. I carry one when out MTBing as phone signals are virtually non existent in the NZ bush.

    Premier Icon allthegear
    Free Member

    “The Garmin offering” mentioned is a DeLorme InReach and I have one, mainly for when I’m stupid places on the motorbike.

    It is quite different to a Spot in that you can both send and receive messages anywhere in the World with a clear view of the sky. I can even tweet!

    It has an emergency SOS function that notifies their central bureau who then contact local rescue. The useful thing of the InReach, though, is they can then follow up and ask you further questions to aid recovery. Every message you send includes GPS data.

    Expensive but they pop up quite often on eBay. That’s where I got mine.

    Rachel

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    Spot tracker or similar is your only option if you have no mobile signal.  Sends a message out via satellite.

    15 € a month or something.

    Premier Icon burko73
    Full Member

    Spot or garmin inreach.

    Premier Icon boblo
    Free Member

    I have a Spot bought for a solo Munro round a few years ago. IIRC, it’s €100 p/a subscription plus the purchase price. I don’t bother with real time tracking which is extra. It takes a while to aquire a satellite when switched on from cold and the ‘SOS message sent OK’ confirmation function is a bit idiosyncratic but I think they’ve improved it on later versions. You can also preconfigure 2 other levels of message to be sent to a predetermined list of email addresses for peace of mind (e.g. ‘I’m OK’ to SWMBO).

    If I was buying now, I’d get a PLB1 from Ocean Rescue. On shore PLB’s weren’t available then without going to wireless gaol.

    Premier Icon poly
    Free Member

    Are PLBs (Personal locator beacons) available? These are buy once and keep handy devices that have one button

    yes. But worth bearing in mind a few things about them: 1. The batteries are not user changeable and usually have a five or six yr life – eBay bargains probably have less than this remaining, and factory replacement is expensive.

    2. Few, if any, PLBs are as simple to activate as one push button.  To be effective you usually have to lift/break a seal/flap then HOLD a button for a few seconds and keep it pointing at the sky for minutes to transmit.

    3. The response isn’t as instant as everyone expects.  There are a whole load of hoops to jump through before a helo gets sent for you.  Expect it to take an hour or more before the helo takes off.  You can help keep this short by keeping your emergency contact details up to date on the register and that person knowing where you are likely to be.

    Premier Icon wwpaddler
    Free Member

    This link probably covers everything you need to know.

    http://www.mountainsafety.co.uk/EP-Emergency-Communication.aspx/

    Premier Icon hedley
    Free Member

    As others have said. If you are in an area of low or poor mobile signal your mobile phone will attempt to switch to another provider to enable you to make a 999/112 call. If this is not possible you can send a text to 999 but you have to sign up to this beforehand and I recommend everyone does. It takes a few minutes and could save your or someone else’s life as you don’t have to be in the middle of nowhere to have a poor signal eg Glentress.

    Notes:

    1) In the UK since 2009, absence of a signal on the phone’s home network will mean that it may be possible to obtain a signal on another network, irrespective of whether dialled on 112 or 999.
    2) If a signal on another network is available, this is referred to as being camped-on.
    3) A phone that’s camped-on to another UK network for the purposes of placing a 999/112 call, cannot receive a call on that network, even if the inbound call is from emergency services.
    4) You cannot send a text to 999/112 whilst camped-on another network.
    5) You cannot send a text if there is no network available.

    To register for the 999 SMS service.

    1) Send the word ‘register’ in an SMS message to 999
    2) You will then receive SMS messages about the service
    3) When you have read these SMS messages reply by sending ‘yes’ in an SMS message to 999
    4) You will receive a SMS message telling you that your mobile phone is registered or if there is a problem with your registration

    Full instructions on: http://www.emergencysms.org.uk/registering_your_mobile_phone.php

    I carry a McMurdo FastFind 220 Personal Locator Beacon. It’s a one use device which requires sending back to the manufacturer to be reset and the battery replaced. I’m ok with this as if I need to use it. I’m either in big trouble or someone else is and I could perhaps save a life and I’m happy to swallow that cost.

    The device is registered via OfCom to me with my details and my emergency contacts. Once activated it transmits a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency which is monitored by the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system. The alert is then relayed via an earth station to the nearest Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC).

    A PLB uses an internal GPS receiver to pinpoint your location to within 62m. Once in the area, rescue services are then able to pinpoint your precise location using the inbuilt 121.5Mhz homing transmitter and finally the flashing LED SOS light although this would need to be covered if a helo is dispatched at night to stop the NVG being overwhelmed.

    If I was to start afresh I’m not sure if I would still buy a PLB or perhaps go with a Spot. At the time the Spot was a lot more expensive and I didn’t want a subscription but I know the prices have dropped and the text features are handy. I think the mot important thing is I have something.

    Premier Icon avdave2
    Free Member

    He’s retired, he should get himself a pigeon loft and take one with him out on the hills.

    Premier Icon Beagleboy
    Full Member

    Cheers for all the advice guys. I think the emergency 999 text service is what I was thinking of. As I said at the start, the chap is a very experienced climber and hillwalker who knows how to handle himself in the hills. He did however have a major hip operation a few years back and it plays mind games with him a wee bit. I’d mentioned that I thought there was a rescue txt or phone service you can sign up to that possibly has better coverage than normal, and said I’d try and find out about it as he’s not the most techy person. Cheers all!

    Premier Icon CountZero
    Full Member

    scuttler

    Member
    Damn you old school tech-less waterproof heretics.

    😁
    It’s possibly worth pointing out I do have an iPhone with ViewRanger containing the whole UK 50k and selected 25k maps, plus the UK Mapping app with the whole of the UK as well.
    But if there’s no signal available during an emergency, even if you know where you are to an accuracy of roughly fifteen metres, it’s bugger-all use if you can’t tell anyone!
    So back to the copy of a map showing your intended route.
    Sometimes low-tech is the best solution for a technical boy… 😁

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