Trends: GPS to SOS | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
Trends: GPS to SOS Photo: Courtesy Trevor Reid / Canadian Armed Forces

The truth behind dangerous and unnecessary rescues in the backcountry


An in-depth look at whether emergency evacuations in the backcountry have increased as a result of advancements in satellite commication devices by Canoeroots and Family Camping magazine. 


In just three decades, handheld satellite emergency technology has moved from the realm of science fiction to essential gear. Having a communication device on hand has helped countless adventurers out of sticky situations, but their increased presence in the backcountry has also led to misuse.

“People get in over their heads and want a helicopter ride out,” says Matt Schaffer, head of search and rescue for the state of California. “Often it’s not intentional misuse, it’s ignorance misuse. Someone perceives there is an emergency and activates their beacon.”

“Anytime we launch a ground team or a helicopter, there is risk to our rescuers—someone needs to be in danger,” says Schaffer, adding that needless rescue operations cost the state big dollars.

In a recent example, a solo hiker came across a smoldering stump at a high elevation, the result of a lightning strike. The hiker pushed his activation button 18 times while helicopter and ground parties were dispatched, says Schaffer...


CRv13i1-24 This article originally appeared in Canoeroots and Family Camping, Spring 2014. To continue reading the full article, download our free iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch App or Android App or read it on your desktop here


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