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Old 05-21-13, 02:12 PM   #1
digibud
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Emergency beacon

I do a lot of my riding solo. I'm 61yrs old and recently broke my collar bone on a very secluded ride and luckily my wife was with me but it's common for me to be riding out of town where there is no cell phone coverage or back on a dirt road with no cell phone coverage and potentially no traffic of any kind for days so it's been suggested I get a emergency beacon kind of thing that I could set off to alert folks as to my whereabouts. Ideally it would show where I am at all times so in the event of something like a heart attack or other disabling accident I could be located even if I were unable to activate it myself.
I haven't begun any research on this but I know there are such things on the market. Our family all has an iPhone app that lets us track each other when we are in cell phone range, if anyone bothers to turn on the app ...and that kind of feature would be great so my wife could note that I've been stopped for too long at some spot. You get the idea.
Anyone with experience with such devices? Small enough to take when on a road bike but satellite based and not dependent upon cell phone coverage?
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Old 05-21-13, 02:19 PM   #2
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fyi some phone gps features are not cell service dependant, for example i use an old iphone (without cell service) for gps programs still. however, accuracy can be affected when it is just going off the satellite. of course since phones are different and apps are i would test this (you can test it usually by just disabling connections on your phone) before you need it!

i know thats not exactly what you're looking for, but just in case you don't find something else that pans out
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Old 05-21-13, 02:29 PM   #3
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Old 05-21-13, 02:37 PM   #4
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fyi some phone gps features are not cell service dependant, for example i use an old iphone (without cell service) for gps programs still.
Yes, he'll be able to know his exact location. But without cell phone service, he won't be able to tell anyone.

What the OP is looking for is something like Spot Trackers. There's a monthly service fee, but I don't think it's outrageous.
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Old 05-21-13, 03:24 PM   #5
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Spot has a new phone:

http://www.findmespot.com/en/

Would be cheaper and more fun to ride with a buddy.
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Old 05-21-13, 08:15 PM   #6
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I just happened to be wearing this t-shirt when I read this. It's from their last show ever at Madison Square Garden. They were Toast in the Machine, and the Fat Lady sang, and Sting shaved off his full beard in the middle of the show.
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Old 05-22-13, 10:28 AM   #7
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As others have pointed out, without cell coverage, having GPS coordinates doesn't do you a lick of good.

If you don't have cell coverage, you're probably going to have to use a Personal Locator Beacon.
These use the satellite rescue system at 406 MHz and it tells the network "emergency at this GPS location" Typically used by hikers and boaters for emergency rescue.

They're about $300 and up.

However, before going that route, you might want to check into what your financial liability is if you trigger it. Typically if a hiker triggers it, they're in deep sh*t, like they've broken a leg 20 miles from the trail head. It wouldn't be unusual for a helicopter to be dispatched. You may get a bill for $5000 for the emergency service, depending on how EMS works in your state.
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Old 05-22-13, 10:30 AM   #8
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If you have an iPhone and have "find my iPhone" enabled and your significant other knows your iTunes password, they can use that to ask your phone where you are -- no app or enabling of anything else required. Of course, the downside is ... your SO can tell wherever you are now at will and without you even knowing, which may or may not be a problem. Of course, it's dependant on having cell coverage, like most things are.

The reality is -- most of what you buy off the shelf to do this is going to be cell phone network based. However, the SPOT mentioned earlier in the thread appears to use the GPS satellites to find out where you are, and other satellites to tell somebody about it -- no cell phone coverage needed. So that sounds like exactly what you're looking for. Sounds like the device is $120 and the service level that would cover your needs is $50/year.

Now, if there is a bonafide emergency, your wife will file a missing persons report and the police will probably talk to the cell phone company and see where the last time your phone was "pinged" was and that may give them an idea of where to start looking for you -- but that will take a while to get going.
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Old 05-22-13, 02:57 PM   #9
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You can do all of that on the iphone with the free app - find my friends and you don't need to know anyone's password.

But the point was that the OP said he was in an area with poor or no cell coverage. That means neither find my iphone or find my friends will work. THe only choice then would be one of the EPIRB based or satellite based products that are available. They work but the turn around time on rescue is going to be fairly long since there is an additional whole rescue infrastructure that sits on top of the 911 EMS local set up.

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Old 05-22-13, 06:07 PM   #10
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They work but the turn around time on rescue is going to be fairly long since there is an additional whole rescue infrastructure that sits on top of the 911 EMS local set up.
I don't think I understand this. If your SPOT tracker calls not only 911 (which should be instantaenous), but also your relative and they call 911. In either case, I'd expect a delay of only a couple of minutes. What am I missing?
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Old 05-22-13, 08:51 PM   #11
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I don't think I understand this. If your SPOT tracker calls not only 911 (which should be instantaenous), but also your relative and they call 911. In either case, I'd expect a delay of only a couple of minutes. What am I missing?
SPOT makes a gadget that connects to this service center: http://www.geosalliance.com/whatisgeos.html through a satellite network.

When your signal hits the center, it gets to a human "officer" who looks you up your device ID and then connects it to your profile. Then they figure out your GPS coordinates and what/who/where is the nearest SAR capability (Search and Rescue). It is not, for example, an automatically routed call to the 911 in the area. It might be, but it might not be. They likely will have little useful information on your condition. Figuring out which agency should do the rescue is often confusing for those familiar with the area.

If you've ever called 911 in a remote area, you'll find that it's if it's not an accident on the road with a car that gets the standard police->ems->fire dept response, then you'll get shuffled from agency to agency until they sort out who owns it (it's a big budget hit). Remember, these guys at GEOS alliance don't know anything about where you are except from looking at a map with your GPS coordinates. That's the extra infrastructure. It's your gadget giving limited information to a dispatch center that figures out where you are and calls another dispatch center (911, LEO, etc... where you are) who then figures out to come looking for you. So it isn't going to be quick. You need to be prepared for an extended time on your own. And above all, it's not like your gadget initiates a computer generated 911 call to the guaranteed right agency automatically in seconds.

AND it depends on a functioning GPS signal which can be a problematic depending on where you are. For example, if you're in a canyon or even under heavy tree cover, your GPS may not be able to get a fix. They're usually pretty good, but they are not at all foolproof. If the GPS location isn't accurate or available then all they know is that you are in trouble, or at least have pushed the button (and there have been inadvertent button pushes that have initiated unneeded rescues).

So this works pretty well if you are camping in the wilderness or maybe on the ocean somewhere (although EPIRB might be better, but not sure) than if you are in a more developed area (i.e. you have roads) where the mutual aid or agency response might not be so clear cut.

Nothing beats having a buddy and some level of communications that work. A buddy can administer life saving first aid (open an airway, revive you, stop serious bleeding etc...) that might give you a lot of time. If you're unconscious, you can't push a button.
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Old 12-09-15, 12:35 PM   #12
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I have a cellular phone that has GPS technology. I originally bought it for all the reasons and purposes anyone would. It is also equipped with a button that would put me in contact with a service that would send help in an emergency.

Although I didn't subscribe to the service at first, I later did. As the last person stated in this thread, my signal was bounced via cell towers to their 'officer' who handles incoming calls. They prefer that you call 911 instead if you can. The cellphone service works with numerous telephone companies so that my signal is good in most parts of the US (Sorry, Alaska). They also have very good satellite service that can identify my location. If I'm unable to talk, they still can identify my signal because of the information I gave them.

I have tested the system twice as it was necessary over the years. The "officer' was able to locate my signal successfully and identified me clearly by satellite. It has been fortunate that no help was needed or help dispatched.
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Old 12-09-15, 12:42 PM   #13
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I have a ResQLink. It comes with me on climbs and backpacking trips into the Cascades. I don't think I've ever brought it on a bike ride. This is the thing where you hit the panic button and then wait for the cavalry to show up no matter where you are. You don't use it if there's any way to get yourself out of the situation, only when you need a full blown rescue.

I considered a SPOT and the superior InReach, but these devices both route emergency calls through a private company and several years ago people died waiting for a rescue that never came because that company dropped the ball. They seem to have improved their internal procedures but I personally can't trust them after a failure like that.
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Old 12-09-15, 08:52 PM   #14
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I have a ResQLink. It comes with me on climbs and backpacking trips into the Cascades. I don't think I've ever brought it on a bike ride. This is the thing where you hit the panic button and then wait for the cavalry to show up no matter where you are. You don't use it if there's any way to get yourself out of the situation, only when you need a full blown rescue.

I considered a SPOT and the superior InReach, but these devices both route emergency calls through a private company and several years ago people died waiting for a rescue that never came because that company dropped the ball. They seem to have improved their internal procedures but I personally can't trust them after a failure like that.
Same here.
Except its a permanent feature of my handlebar bag.
Its now on every ride.

As for worrying about $5000 when your alone stuck out in the boonies with a broken leg, its chump change compared to being dead from blood loss and/or shock.
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Old 12-09-15, 09:28 PM   #15
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GET RESCUED FAST in a DISASTER

:-)
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Old 12-10-15, 04:22 AM   #16
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Off topic: it's free for those who do have cell service throughout the ride.

https://www.roadid.com/ecrumbs
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The eCrumb feature of the App is a breeze to use and allows your friends and family to track you in real time, on a map, when you head outdoors for an adventure (run, ride, hike, walk, etc). It also has an optional “Stationary Alert” that can notify select contacts if you stop moving for more than 5 minutes.

Last edited by Athens80; 12-10-15 at 04:26 AM.
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Old 12-10-15, 09:48 AM   #17
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As for worrying about $5000 when your alone stuck out in the boonies with a broken leg, its chump change compared to being dead from blood loss and/or shock.
I don't know what the $5K is for, I assume that's what it will cost for your rescue? Here it's always free. SAR is carried out by volunteers. Even if you need a helicopter extraction, they won't charge you, they have a contract with the army who uses search and rescue for flight training.
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Old 12-10-15, 10:20 AM   #18
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re: expense of rescue - found out about this NH requirement for hikers

Hike Safe :: It's your responsibility - The NH Hike Safe Card
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Old 12-10-15, 11:30 AM   #19
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I don't know what the $5K is for, I assume that's what it will cost for your rescue? Here it's always free. SAR is carried out by volunteers. Even if you need a helicopter extraction, they won't charge you, they have a contract with the army who uses search and rescue for flight training.
Rescue in NZ and I think here in Australia is free.
I used the figure $5K in response to the post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
As others have pointed out, without cell coverage, having GPS coordinates doesn't do you a lick of good.

If you don't have cell coverage, you're probably going to have to use a Personal Locator Beacon.
These use the satellite rescue system at 406 MHz and it tells the network "emergency at this GPS location" Typically used by hikers and boaters for emergency rescue.

They're about $300 and up.

However, before going that route, you might want to check into what your financial liability is if you trigger it. Typically if a hiker triggers it, they're in deep sh*t, like they've broken a leg 20 miles from the trail head. It wouldn't be unusual for a helicopter to be dispatched. You may get a bill for $5000 for the emergency service, depending on how EMS works in your state.
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Old 12-10-15, 03:31 PM   #20
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On longer rides I usually carry emergency bacon.

Kinda makes me nostalgic for the old days before cell phones and gps.
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