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Old 07-08-2011, 08:49 AM   #1
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Boondocking emergency question

I was looking for advise on what others may recommend when boondocking and an emergency happens. I was out last weekend in the backcountry of Colorado when another camper in the area had an emergency with there mother (an older woman) who was having an apparent heart attack. We were at 9300 feet and she apparently wasn't handling the altitude well either. I had thought I had satellite coverage with my On Star system only to learn that it was a cellular based system after returning to a coverage area. They ended up evacuating and heading to the nearest hospital 50 miles away (not sure of the outcome).

Has anyone used satellite phone in the backcountry. How expensive are they and where does one acquire the phone and service? This was the first time I've boondocked with my AS and we had an awesome time, but with the events that transpired it made me think of how I could've helped out more or what if it was my family emergency.

Bigcigar & Vicki
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Old 07-08-2011, 08:56 AM   #2
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Not AS, but related. I do wilderness canoeing in the BWCA every year where there is no cell service and you are on your own. I am rapidly approaching the age where these concerns are more of an issue.

Satellite phones and service are VERY expensive. Up there, many of the outfitters rent the phones. $125/week plus $15 per minute, if you use it. It may be worth it someday. That being said, I have a survival kit which contains flares, signal mirrors, bright emergency LED lights. There are other signals particular to the canoeing scene.

My point is, If you send up a flare every 30 minutes anywhere close to Federal land, you will get somebody's attention quickly. Of course, when fire danger is high, flares have other consequences. But, you'll get attention even faster then!.
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:13 AM   #3
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Emergency flares are for use over water where there is no consequence. Please do not use aerial flares over land in the forest. The largest fire in AZ history was human caused. I'm sure they would get the forest service attention so they can bill you hundreds of thousands of dollars for fighting the fire you caused with a flare.

Anyway, there are personal locator beacons (PLB's) which you can buy that you can use anywhere in an emergency tied into a satellite system for getting located. They have them for boats and airplanes as well. ACR is the leading provider of these rescue devices.
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:23 AM   #4
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Great idea on the emergency beacon, Mojo. I wonder how quick the response is to that. But I guess that's built into the logistics of it.
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigcgar View Post
I was looking for advise on what others may recommend when boondocking and an emergency happens. I was out last weekend in the backcountry of Colorado when another camper in the area had an emergency with there mother (an older woman) who was having an apparent heart attack. We were at 9300 feet and she apparently wasn't handling the altitude well either. I had thought I had satellite coverage with my On Star system only to learn that it was a cellular based system after returning to a coverage area. They ended up evacuating and heading to the nearest hospital 50 miles away (not sure of the outcome).

Has anyone used satellite phone in the backcountry. How expensive are they and where does one acquire the phone and service? This was the first time I've boondocked with my AS and we had an awesome time, but with the events that transpired it made me think of how I could've helped out more or what if it was my family emergency.

Bigcigar & Vicki
That's interesting you say Onstar was cellular based. I asked the exact question when talking to Onstar about an emergency and they said they are satellite service and we would have no problem in a no cell area in an emergency. Their phone service used to be tied to Verizon but I was referring to "pushing the Onstar button"
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:37 AM   #6
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:48 AM   #7
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Don't you have to question the wisdom of taking an elderly woman to 9300 ft. in a remote area? If she doesn't normally live happily at those altitudes, I would start to think in terms of one of Ron White's stand up routines...."You can't fix stupid".

I live pretty much at sea level, I'm 60 but very active, and I know I can feel the effects of the altitude above about 9,000 ft. in the Rockies.
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Old 07-08-2011, 10:31 AM   #8
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In the back country, mobility is more valuable than communications. Driving to the hospital is the right thing to do. In most cases it will result in faster access to medical care than a phone call will.
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Old 07-08-2011, 10:48 AM   #9
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That's interesting you say Onstar was cellular based. I asked the exact question when talking to Onstar about an emergency and they said they are satellite service and we would have no problem in a no cell area in an emergency. Their phone service used to be tied to Verizon but I was referring to "pushing the Onstar button"
You were given incorrect information by someone wanting you to continue subscribing to Onstar. The *ONLY* satellite-based part of Onstar is the GPS receiver in the car that tells it (and possibly you, depending on which car you have) where it's located. Onstar has no satellite transmitter. None. Zero. All of its 2-way communications features (including summoning emergency assistance) require a cellular connection.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:21 AM   #10
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Emergency flares are for use over water where there is no consequence. Please do not use aerial flares over land in the forest. The largest fire in AZ history was human caused. I'm sure they would get the forest service attention so they can bill you hundreds of thousands of dollars for fighting the fire you caused with a flare.

Anyway, there are personal locator beacons (PLB's) which you can buy that you can use anywhere in an emergency tied into a satellite system for getting located. They have them for boats and airplanes as well. ACR is the leading provider of these rescue devices.
Life or death???? Fines or not, if I'm having a heart attack, up goes the flare! Broken leg....probably not.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by mojo View Post
Emergency flares are for use over water where there is no consequence. Please do not use aerial flares over land in the forest. The largest fire in AZ history was human caused. I'm sure they would get the forest service attention so they can bill you hundreds of thousands of dollars for fighting the fire you caused with a flare.

Anyway, there are personal locator beacons (PLB's) which you can buy that you can use anywhere in an emergency tied into a satellite system for getting located. They have them for boats and airplanes as well. ACR is the leading provider of these rescue devices.
Last time I checked. Beacon service was a subscription which is for 12 months a year, whether you use it or not. Can't remember the price, but it seemed unrealistic at the time for maybe 2 week use per year. Makes the satellite phone about a push.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:27 AM   #12
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Life or death???? Fines or not, if I'm having a heart attack, up goes the flare! Broken leg....probably not.
If your life isn't worth $125 a week for a satellite phone, perhaps you should stay out of the back country if you're concerned about health issues.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:45 AM   #13
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Last time I checked. Beacon service was a subscription which is for 12 months a year, whether you use it or not. Can't remember the price, but it seemed unrealistic at the time for maybe 2 week use per year. Makes the satellite phone about a push.
The "Spot" emergency locator beacons are $99/year for basic service, and the device costs $150 or so.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:48 AM   #14
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In the back country, mobility is more valuable than communications. Driving to the hospital is the right thing to do. In most cases it will result in faster access to medical care than a phone call will.
Not so sure about that - if part of your emergency takes away your mobility then you're in trouble.

The whole point about emergency communications is to gain the right access to the right people as quickly as possible - the nature of the emergency dictates who those folks are, what's needed for assistance, and the time it will take to get that assistance.

Satellite phones get you that access - regardless of the emergency and wherever you are.



Jay


An aside: $125/week is excessive - if that is what the outfitter is charging then check out other sources.
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