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Thread: My experience using my SPOT Messenger's 911 emergency button

  1. #1

    Default My experience using my SPOT Messenger's 911 emergency button

    I posted this yesterday on
    I'll be spending a lot more time with my FJ62 than my dirt bike for a few months maybe forever, if my wife gets her way.

    The original post

    A couple of days ago I broke my leg in a crash on single track in a remote area. Many people have asked if and how the SPOT Messenger I used to call for help worked.
    I've Posted about the ride in this forum post:

    So here is my review of the SPOT Messenger in an emergency.

    3:00 pm

    I wrecked. I knew instantly my leg was broken.

    3:10 pm

    Two of the three people I was with left to get a truck.
    At the time the plan was then I would ride out in the truck.

    5:18 pm

    After trying to move and feeling how severe the fractures were
    I pushed the 911 button on my SPOT messenger. It was dark by
    then, windy and getting cold. It became obvious that I would be
    putting myself in more danger if I rode an hour or more on
    very rough terrain in a truck.

    5:22 pm

    My wife received a call from the GEOS rescue service at home.
    The GEOS service wanted to confirm that the call was not a
    false alarm.

    5:30 pm

    The sheriff's dept called my wife to verify that I was missing.
    The person who called did not seem to understand what GPS
    coordinates were. They wanted to know the general area I was
    riding in. They were given my exact location by GEOS but did not
    know how to use the information. My wife tried to give the local Sheriff
    operator the GPS coordinates but were unfamiliar with them and kept
    saying it only provided a general location.

    5:40 pm

    My wife called the GEOS center. She was frustrated that the local
    sheriff dept did not understand how to find me. The person from
    GEOS advised they had already contacted an emergency response
    center in Sacramento after the frustrating conversation with the local Sheriff operator.

    5:40-6:40 pm

    Calls came in from more informed local authorities and from
    the emergency response center in Sacramento. The sheriff dept
    at this time was planning on trying to find me on the ground.

    6:20 pm

    One of the many attempts by the friend who stayed with me
    to go up to the ridge above us to use his cell phone worked.
    He got a hold of his wife who called mine to let her know what
    the situation was.

    6:30 pm

    The two friends who went to get the truck got back to us.

    6:42 pm

    My wife got a hold of the sheriff and told him my condition.
    She also got a hold of the GEOS center and told them my
    condition. The sheriff dept got through my friend's
    cell phone who was now with me and told them they were sending
    out a helicopter.

    7:20 pm

    The sheriffs helicopter arrived and landed as close as possible.
    They flew me to an ambulance where I was treated until another
    helicopter arrived - a medical evacuation helicopter with room
    for a stretcher.

    9 ish pm

    I arrived at a hospital in Palm Springs were I was drugged
    and ignored, but was happy to be indoors and warm.

    Anyways I'm at home now with a cast and very satisfied with the SPOT messengers performance. I don't know exactly who did what or how it got done but it all worked out well enough. It's important to also have an informed contact person listed for SPOT and GEOS to relay information.

    The one unanswered question I have is if the insurance I bought for search and rescue when I activated the SPOT will pay for any of the helicopter costs. I'll post about it when I know.
    88 FJ62 OME heavy f/r locked 33-10.5 BFG AT
    FG649 swb w/ crane

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Orange County, CA
    Good to hear that it all worked for you. I've wondered more than once about the "nuts and bolts" of how they contact rescue- now I know.

    Hope your leg will be okay!
    Kevin Price
    '95 Ford Bronco

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Prescott, AZ
    Great post! Sorry about your leg, but it is great to hear it worked.
    Scott Brady
    Instagram - @globaloverland

    Overland Journal
    G-Wagen | Defender 110 | Land Cruiser BJ74 | Moto Guzzi V7

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Tucson, Arizona
    Glad to hear it works. A little disconcerting that anyone at the Sheriff's Office would not know what a Latitude and Longitude are.

    What county were you in?
    James Howard
    US States visited: 44
    Mexican States visited: 19
    Countries Visited: 17

    We are sane, everyone else is crazy!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Wow what a crazy day for you. I'm glad everything in the end worked out ok. Now if we could only teach that idiot on at the Sheriffs department how to use GPS!
    Heidi - KF7CKI
    1985 Vanagon GL Diesel Convert

    1998 Isuzu Trooper S

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Chandler, Arizona
    Great posting. Sorry about your leg, but thanks for putting up the details.

    I've been rescued by the Sheriff before in an instance where I was able to relay my coordinates via cell phone to a person at home. Frankly, the sheriff's office in the county I was in knew exactly what to do with lat and lon -- and we're grateful for the specific location.
    Mark Stephens

    Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live.
    -- Mark Twain, Taming the Bicycle

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Raleigh, NC
    Thanks for the info, and welcome to the site. I was wondering if anyone else new if a 2 hour response time is somewhat normal? In a life threatening situation 2 hours is a LONG time. Might not be any way around that in a lot of situations though.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    So Cal
    Great post - we don't often get to hear the details about how these devices work when the chips are down.

    Frankly, I would be a little concerned about the response time. In a life threatening situation 2 hours can be an eternity. The response may have been handled with a different sense of urgency if that were the case, but it's hard to say that for sure.

    On the EQUIPT web site there is an interesting presentation highlighting the differences between SPOT and PLBs. This story may be a relevant example of the difference in response between the 911 system (which SPOT contacts) vs. the Search & Rescue community (who are contacted in response to a PLB emergency). I'm pretty sure you wouldn't find anyone in the SAR community who didn't know what to do with a set of Lat/Long coordinates.
    Last edited by cnynrat; 01-06-2009 at 10:32 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    A town called Malice
    My family gave me a SPoT for X-Mas and its nice to know from your post how the device helps in the event of an emergency. I am also eager to hear how the insurance coverage works out for you. Sorry to hear about your leg and I hope all is well.
    [FONT="Tahoma"][SIZE="1"][URL=""][COLOR="DarkOliveGreen"]The Discovery[/COLOR][/URL][/SIZE]
    [SIZE="1"][URL=""][COLOR="DarkOrange"]The Adventure[/COLOR][/URL][/SIZE][/FONT]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Forest Falls, CA
    Thanks for sharing, i hope you have a speedy recovery.

    I agree with the above comments. 2 hours seems a bit long to wait. If i use spot its for a serious reason like yours or someone's had a heart attack, cut their head open, etc etc and needs help NOW. Now in 2 hours. However, like above said its better than not having anything i guess.

    I also agree that the local Sheriff's not knowing Lat. and Long., blow's my mind. Shoot, if nothing else they could get on google in their station and pull up a coord if need be. What's the point if the end user can't locate you. Wild.
    Dave & Yoshi
    The Adventure Duo
    2003 Sportsmobile EB 7.3 PSD
    1997 Landcruiser 80 Series Collectors Edition
    2005 Suzuki DRZ400s
    Tread Lightly! Trainer | Manufacturer of the Trasharoo

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