Using the SPOT Appropriately and notifying contacts on what to do

oneal30

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Nov 6, 2009
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I posted this under my SPOT test but I thought a new thread might be helpful as well.

I think this feature has a TON of potential. There needs to be a way of guarding against overreacting to a HELP call as well though. Whoever I choose for my HELP contact list, will have all the local numbers to the Search and Rescue units before I leave. They've been instructed to call these numbers if I issue a help from my SPOT.
<O:p</O:p
It's a fine line to walk. There's no reason to launch a huge rescue effort for someone who just might have to stay the night sometimes. If you are prepared, staying overnight in the wilderness is not the end of the world. Yes, it may be stressful and scary, but who's to say we need to risk the safety and resources of other people because your temporarily lost or separated from your group. <O:p

Since having this device, I've wondered what circumstance would make me hit the help vs. the SOS key. Obviously if someone is seriously injured and can't get out the SOS key is great. However, in what circumstance would the HELP key be useful?<O:p</O:p

I have thoughts what I would use it for, but am more curious what others might think?<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p
Thanks,<O:p</O:p
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CatWoman

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Our group has had a call list in place for many years. It's a list of folks whom will be there to help should anyone need it. All of these folks also have the proper gear and training. It's understood that no one is to risk their own life. Not just anyone was added to this list....we all know we can rely on each other if needed. We also have a 2 way radio channel # set up...so everyone knows if they go out to assist, to put their radios on that channel. We also have Garmin Rhino 530 HCX's now as well.

For my HELP button, it goes to my In Laws and my son. They have a copy of our list. "Help" will be used ONLY in a non-life threatening situation....and this has also been discussed. This could be a sled down, stuck in a ravine, or a variety of other things. If we press this button, it will be to get assistance....not put anyone else in danger. If needed, the hubby and I could easily spend the night with the amount of gear we carry (which our family also knows).

If I hit 911 (SOS), that means send the chopper....plain and simple. While this goes out to the proper agencies via SPOT, my other 2 contacts are set up to get this info as well....so we will also have folks coming that way.

It's extremely important to discuss these things in advance with those whom you set up to receive your messages. Leave nothing to chance, these discussions are a part of being prepared. :)
 

Brian

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This is what I sent to the folks on my contact list.. (Note that "w, x, y, and z" represent people in my family.)

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

PLEASE SAVE THIS EMAIL. PLEASE ALSO COPY THE TEXT TO THE NOTES IN YOUR CELL PHONE.

I just bought a new "SPOT II Messenger" device for ATVing and Snowmobiling. Basically, it tracks my location via satellite, and allows me to summon help by pushing a button on the unit.

One of the cool things it has is a map you can view to see where I'm at from the times I've checked in.

Map URLs

Here is the map that shows where I've been during the last 24 hours:
URL-HERE

And here is the map that shows where I've been during the last 7 days:
URL-HERE

It might be best to bookmark both URLs just so you've always got them handy.

Here's how it works:

If we're out riding (ATVs or snowmobiles), this is the URL you would use to see where we're at if we're running late or something. The map should be updated every 10 minutes while we're out. If something ever does go wrong, turn this map over to SAR (search and rescue) -- presumably by giving them the URL so they can see it as well. I can also send notifications to you if the situation warrants.

What the notifications mean:

Check-In/OK: When I push this button, it will send you an email / text to let you know everything is okay. If we're ever really, really late getting back from a trip, watch for these emails. It means "something went wrong and we're not able to get back when we thought we were going to.... But everything is fine... So don't worry". Because I don't know who will be with me at any given time, or who might actually be using the device, these Check-In/OK emails will go to w, x, y, and z. Text messages will go to w and x.

Help: This will send you an email as well as a text-message to your cell phone. This button is an indication that we are asking you to send assistance, but there's no immediate need to call in the national guard or professional search and rescue. If you get this notice, please locate our position on the map and decide the best way to respond. We may be 50 miles from home and out of gas (or broken down) and just need to be picked up. If you're at the cabin and you receive this message, it's generally a request to put someone else on an ATV / snowmobile to come find us. Although if it's summer-time, and we are near a road (which you can see on the map), you can probably jump in the car. Bring gas, tow-straps, etc. Help-alerts will be sent to w, x, y, and z via email and via text-message.

SOS: This will send you an email as well as a text message to your cell phone. It will also notify SAR (Search and Rescue) that there's a life-threatening emergency. Because you are listed as an emergency contact, SAR will likely be contacting you for additional information on our trip, location, people we're with, and gear we might be carrying. Please take this alert seriously. If you don't hear from SAR within 20 to 30 minutes of getting this alert, please call 911 yourself. Our GPS location can be viewed on the map, and the latitude / longitude in the notification should also be provided. SOS alerts will be sent to SAR as well as w, x, y, and z via email and via text message.

Communications:

In the event of an emergency, please notify SAR, or whoever is coming, that we monitor channel 18, privacy code 18 on the FRS / GMRS radios. (This is 462.6250 mhz, PL code 123.0)
 

roughrider99

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i just got a spot for xmas and my parents are my contacts, actually went over the msgs and we talked about what each msg really means and what the course of action should be heres my setup.
check in/ok > everything is fine and dandy
custom message> I'm in trouble but ok, might be late till i get out of bush
help> non life threatening but in trouble and need help, notify friends to come get me or notify local officials that i am stuck in the bush.

After discussing everything my contacts know what situation i am likely in and know what to do and there won;t be any confusion. contacts now have a call list that includes friends who know the area i ride to rcmp and seach and rescue.
 

Flange

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I think this thread has the potential to become a Sticky. Some great info guys! Practice and preparation are so important yet so often taken for granted and/or overlooked. Discussions like this are so helpful.
 

lcoop

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OK- just letting u know we are ok, running late or just to see position on google earth when we get home.

Pre-set message- I set mine to say "we are ok but spending the night". This came in handy as we had to spend the night last season. (long story)

SOS- send everyone. Someone is injured or we are in very bad shape

Wives and girlfriends get the messages. All riding buddies get the messages also. This allows the guys that aren't out riding to help. I also put my emergency contacts in the list such as family, ect.

Hope that helps.
 

newmy1

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make sure your OK contacts are the same as your HELP contacts or Custom is used as a help message in anyway. Reason...if you push help then later don't need help for any reason you can send an OK message letting the same list of folks that you are now ok.
 

christopher

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Interesting thought.
I have opted to go the other route.
My HELP contacts are guys that I know WOULD come and get me, while the I'M OK are Wife/Family.
 

newmy1

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Had ours that way as well until last weekend. Friends got in a bind hit the help button. Had guys scrambling to find out they were later able to get out but we didn't get the ok message as he had a different set of folks on that message. Should be a way to cancel a help message but the only real way is with an ok or in person after the fact.

This of course pizzed some guys off but there was no way to avoid it with the way the contacts were set up.


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Oct 10, 2010
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Excellent point about what to do after a help situation has been resolved to let the list know all is ok.

The thing I learned in Alaska is that you can not delay getting help when things go "pear shaped" but then once the issue is sorted cancelling the help message would be important, so I am curious to see how other riders set up an emergency action plan.
 

motorheadskier

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So I have been using spot for 3 or 4 years now and have worked threw the some bugs... I still use the first spot. so lots of family gets my OK messages since I spend days/weeks in the backcountry without cell reception... I hit it at least once a day so no one worries... for my help list I have just 3 people on it. all three know that the first people to call are the other two from that list to see who is able to work on the situation. 2 of the people ride with me a lot and could be out there with me but I always have one even if I have to add one the day of that will not be out on my trip (had to do this in Canada this year since my Tahoe friends would have been useless so far away). All 3 people have a list of friends with a list of capabilities next to the name... help message says "things are not going as planned look where I am and send a friend" depending on season and where I am friends have a list like Jon ######## Back country skier Joe ####### Rock Crawler Jeff ####### Snowmobile guy... They have a list of about 10 people to contact in an order of priority as to who to call. They know its not an emergency when I hit help and not to worry. They also know if they see 911 that bad bad things are going on! New thing for next season is we are all using the Rino or radio's and have a channel to help find each other. Hope this helps... New to the Forum so Hello :face-icon-small-hap
 

newmy1

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Excellent point about what to do after a help situation has been resolved to let the list know all is ok.

The thing I learned in Alaska is that you can not delay getting help when things go "pear shaped" but then once the issue is sorted cancelling the help message would be important, so I am curious to see how other riders set up an emergency action plan.
Canceling the help message does not send a cancel message however. Only way to let those same people know is to send an ok message to the SAME contacts per my post above.


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Nov 26, 2007
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Question : Thinking about getting the 'spot' , initial cost is not bad at all . standard service of $99.00 a year , not bad . To track and link to goggle maps $49.99 a year . So starting to add up . To track the spot has to lay flat as emblem is the antenna . Have beacon , want a rhino , want a avy pack , want spot , but what is really needed and the right piece to carry ????
 

rmk727

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This things prety old but I would like to know what contacts should be listed if all your trips start 900 miles from home. whom should be contacted if you need help, the resort, local sherriff?
 
Aug 27, 2015
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Question : Thinking about getting the 'spot' , initial cost is not bad at all . standard service of $99.00 a year , not bad . To track and link to goggle maps $49.99 a year . So starting to add up . To track the spot has to lay flat as emblem is the antenna . Have beacon , want a rhino , want a avy pack , want spot , but what is really needed and the right piece to carry ????


Avy pack in my opinion. Will save your butt before anything else on that list.
 

nfinit100

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I have personally seen spot help rescue two different groups in the last year. I highly recommend them. The new gen3 is lightweight and durable. We have had great luck with it. There was a rebate, not sure if it's still available, for the purchase price during the holidays.

As far as the AVY pack goes, we definitely ride with them. But I would not say they are the best thing. Of course the beacon, shovel, probe in a pack are the definites. Education and understanding of the snowpack, terrain choices, etc. all need to come first. On the, hopefully rare, occasion that the snowpack or incline isn't what you expected and you are caught in a slide, having the avy pack could save your life. I fear that people with the avy pack may make riskier less informed decisions.

each year it seems that more and more snowmobilers are caught in avalanches (or at least I pay attention more). I just hope that people educate themselves and reduce the risk or at minimum don't put others at risk. It's similar when people choose to ride in certain areas without beacons, they think they don't need them because they make good choices. I want them to have the beacon to save me if it's necessary, not just be able to find them. So we ride with beacons and carry an extra in case someone we meet up with doesn't have one.

and back to the spot....
 

Sage Crusher

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We should update this as the new Gen 3 limits you on your text messages now- but work rather well - Looking forward to using it this winter- Just got mine about a month ago and works well while out hunting where I have zero cell till i get to camp and have my family tell me they received the "ok" check in on their cells at camp!
 
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