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An article by Jim Kesel
Recent back country disasters have highlighted the value of personal GPS tracking units. Lost hikers, skiers, hunters, mountain climbers and outdoor adventure enthusiasts require massive efforts by SAR (search and rescue) personnel. These efforts cost thousands of dollars each day of effort. SAR personnel risk their own lives trying to locate and rescue these individuals and often as not these operations end in a recovery effort.
New cell phone technology and manufacture regulations have placed GPS technology in cell phones. This is a great step forward that will assist SAR personnel in locating lost individuals. The major limitation in using cell phones as GPS tracking devices is the phones short battery life. Granted a lost individual that is thinking clearly will manage the battery life on his or her cell phone to prolong the tracking function. However many lost or injured individuals find themselves very stressed by the experience of being lost which leads to reduced cognitive reasoning skills.
New back country GPS tracking Units with locator capability are designed to be employed by an individual that recognizes that they are lost or injured. These devices use satellite phone technology to broadcast the exact location of the device to within about 10 meter or 33 feet. Pushing the panic button is all that is necessary to activate the device. This has many benefits including the need to worry about battery life and also the need to respond to a contact by cell phone in the case of a serious injury. The injured person can be incapacitated and still expect to be located.
This past year a deer hunter had the misfortune of falling out of her tree stand and breaking her hip and leg. She was located in an area that had poor cell phone coverage. However her husband was wise enough to provide her with a GPS tracking unit with the emergency location features. She was able to push the 911 button between periods of consciousness. The emergency signal was received and local authorities used a hand held GPS unit to literally guide them to within a few feet of her. Because of the extent of her injuries this woman most likely would not have survived the sub freezing temperatures during the night.
The GPS Tracking unit used in this case was purchased on the Internet from Cabalas for less than $200. A casual search on the Internet yielded more than 30 websites where these GPS tracking and locator device can be purchased. Some SAR officials have proposed regulations requiring the mandatory possession of these devices by back country visitors. In fact in some locations these devices can be rented by backpackers and other wild country visitors.
Given the cost of SAR response it would seem very reasonable for everyone to carry such a device when in the remote areas of the world. These devices do in fact work anywhere there are GPS and communication satellites above the horizon. New innovations in technology continue reduce the size of GPS tracking units and make them even more rugged and reliable. It goes without say that it would be wise for every person contemplating a back country trip to invest in this life saving technology.
James Kesel, MS is the Publisher of the GPS Auto Tracker website at http://www.gps-auto-trackers.com . Providing information on the latest GPS Tracking and Navigation systems. Protect yourself with a GPS Tracking and locator Units while in the backcountry.