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COMMUNICATIONS
Discussion on the types of communication the club can use on runs for emergencies
November 19, 2020
7:18 am
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Guy and Lynda
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Added this topic for discussions & ideas for possible consideration of communications for emergency use on trail runs, where there is no cell service available.

I suggested a satellite phone, which is costly, but effective.

The best plan I see is what the company I work for currently uses when construction work is happening in remote areas.

The service is called Irridium GO! Satellite Hotspot: https://satellitephonestore.co.....ium-go-252.

The $699 is the cost of the device. The service plan is what connects the device to the satellite network so that you can use your cell phone to make/receive calls. Similar to what you would have to pay for a Verizon MiFi for internet. This is a one-time cost for the device & the monthly plan starts at $60 that gives you 40 minutes of talk time (per month). There are other companies & plans to this & other carriers, but this is the one the company uses & it works effectively.

This is my initial take & will do more research, as information comes in. It's a lot of money for a lot of assurance, something maybe worth discussing. Alternate ideas & comments are welcome

November 19, 2020
8:11 pm
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Mike G
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Don't we run club frequency HAM radio channels?

Wouldn't it just be better to get a cheap but good mobil home base station for the HAM radio frequencies we have?

Then we can give it to a different member that isn't on the run and will be home to listen to the radio for any emergencies...

November 20, 2020
6:54 am
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Guy and Lynda
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Mike G said
Don't we run club frequency HAM radio channels?

Wouldn't it just be better to get a cheap but good mobil home base station for the HAM radio frequencies we have?

Then we can give it to a different member that isn't on the run and will be home to listen to the radio for any emergencies...

  

If that will work Mike, that's a great idea & a lot cheaper. Something to look into.

November 20, 2020
7:40 am
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JohnDF
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My only issue with a pricey purchase of one item...

One person will have the phone and be responsible for getting it to another member going on a run, Then that person has the responsibility for getting it to the next person. Pretty soon we lose track of where it is and it's sitting in somebody's garage for years. I know, because I had the portable toilet and club pop-up tent for years, and nobody ever contacted me to bring it to them. They get lost in the shuffle and forgotten about. Magnetic signs anybody?

I used to wheel a lot. . .

November 20, 2020
9:18 am
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Specialsoundman
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I agree with John about having just one unit, like John said, Been there, done that.

If there was a strict "system" of who (the same person) the unit is returned to the same or next day after EVERY run, no exceptions!!, it could work.

Also some kind of strict accountability needs to in place. If the club does get a Sat radio, this is a expensive piece of equipment, there has to be a signed check out contract system with a deposit. If there is something to lose the equipment will get returned in great shape. If the equipment is broken or lost the person that checked it out should be responsible for repair or replacement. If one can't afford that responsibility, don't check it out. Yes, seems mean, but have to protect the interest of the club. Their maybe some that don't agree, I know there is the exceptions, But if there is no potential personal loss, there is a lot of times no accountability. "it's not mine, no big deal"

I think one of the issues with a home base Ham Radio is the antenna. Having a good enough set up. As far as Ham, maybe someone could reach out to Tyler and ask him? Pulse having a qualified operator that is willing to monitor during the runs.

If I can't build it, then it's something that should be bought.

November 20, 2020
10:36 am
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BKGM Jeepers
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Good point guys.  We spent thousands of dollars on a trailer.  What is it's utilization factor? 

I've been on runs for two decades.  Technology has evolved.  But rule 1 - never wheel alone.  This addresses 99% of the concerns.  You have someone to go for help/get parts/contact people.  When Guy broke on the Rubicon another member was texting because they could.  I had him text my wife to tell her I'd be late.  Free solution.  

You can choose to use the radios.  I have one in my garage.  If something serious happened couldn't you just get on a popular frequency and ask for help?  I'm not an expert but aren't the common Rubicon frequencies monitored usually?

November 20, 2020
11:31 am
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Brian
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The ham idea will not work with the club freqs we have now. Those are basically simple channel plain text which only go a certain distance. No where near someone at home unfortunately.

 

You would have to use a repeater frequency to achieve that type of distance. I have hit either the 805 or N6ICW from the top of strawberry but not all trails may be able to hit a repeater. For example I can’t hit anything from bowman lake. Also, you would need a ham license to legally use the channel although in an emergency I’m sure it would be fine. 

W6JLU

November 21, 2020
7:08 am
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JohnDF
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BKGM Jeepers said
Good point guys.  We spent thousands of dollars on a trailer.  What is it's utilization factor? 

  

I was going to bring that up, but thought it might be a sore point. 

I used to wheel a lot. . .

November 22, 2020
3:49 pm
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Gilbert & Betty
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I thought that's why we invested in the club channels and a some of members got their ham license. Maybe we should try and talk with Tyler if possible to clear up the HAM radio option and what constitutes and emergency.  

November 22, 2020
4:44 pm
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Guy and Lynda
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The trailer aside, if you can’t contact a repeater, its no better than a cell phone. At the Caltrans station there wasn’t low cell signal, there was no service at all. Who would keep the satellite phone could be worked out easily & should be one person. My vote stands (so far).

November 23, 2020
8:54 am
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BKGM Jeepers
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JohnDF said

BKGM Jeepers said

Good point guys.  We spent thousands of dollars on a trailer.  What is it's utilization factor? 

  

I was going to bring that up, but thought it might be a sore point. 

  

Sorry!  I was only intending to use it as an example.  I had forgotten about the club pop up.   that was a great idea for snow runs, club camp outs and the toy runs.  It was actually used - and cheap!  

November 23, 2020
8:57 am
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BKGM Jeepers
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Gilbert & Betty said
I thought that's why we invested in the club channels and a some of members got their ham license. Maybe we should try and talk with Tyler if possible to clear up the HAM radio option and what constitutes and emergency.  

  

I cannot see anyone getting in trouble for usage during an emergency.  This would be an exceptional circumstance.  

I wouldn't have used it in Guys (Cables Lake) case.  It's a 15 min drive to either Kirkwood Meadow, or back to the overlook.  Both places have cell service.

On the Rubicon there is coverage at the phone booth and at certain spots on the trail, depending on carrier.

November 24, 2020
7:39 am
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kris_olof
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I will try and have a talk with tyler this week but I think getting more members with a HAM license is the "free" option.  I know with APRS Tyler can send texts through bluetooth on his phone anywhere he can hit a repeater plus direct communication with the helicopters in an emergency rescue.

As to the Sattellite phone, I think that is too expensive for something that wont see much use.  The cheaper alternative is the SPOT which is on sale right now for $99 and the service plans are very reasonable at $10-15 a month.  Frankly these are getting cheap enough I might just get one for myself.

I think we should push this discussion to next spring since I don't see the club doing any snow wheeling other than MET which has cell signal/tons of traffic.  The main reason for pushing is that the new starlink network is going live this month and I have a feeling that prices for satellite subscriptions of all kinds will have to fall to compete.  ($99 for unlimited data at 50 mpbs vs the $130 i am paying now for 60GB at 10 mbps from viasat)

November 24, 2020
2:27 pm
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Guy and Lynda
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kris_olof said
I will try and have a talk with tyler this week but I think getting more members with a HAM license is the "free" option.  I know with APRS Tyler can send texts through bluetooth on his phone anywhere he can hit a repeater plus direct communication with the helicopters in an emergency rescue.

As to the Sattellite phone, I think that is too expensive for something that wont see much use.  The cheaper alternative is the SPOT which is on sale right now for $99 and the service plans are very reasonable at $10-15 a month.  Frankly these are getting cheap enough I might just get one for myself.

I think we should push this discussion to next spring since I don't see the club doing any snow wheeling other than MET which has cell signal/tons of traffic.  The main reason for pushing is that the new starlink network is going live this month and I have a feeling that prices for satellite subscriptions of all kinds will have to fall to compete.  ($99 for unlimited data at 50 mpbs vs the $130 i am paying now for 60GB at 10 mbps from viasat)

  

Kris, SPOT sounds interesting, what type of service is this?

November 24, 2020
7:34 pm
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Jeff_R
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Guy and Lynda said 

Kris, SPOT sounds interesting, what type of service is this?

  

Spot and Garmin's inReach are satellite tracking devices. Some models enable text messaging via satellite. My son has an older Spot device that doesn't have text messaging but it allows us to track his movement (provided you enable it) when he goes on solo backpacking trips in the most remote regions of the eastern Sierra for 4 to 6 weeks in the summer. They are affordable, small, lightweight and can be individually owned. Perhaps the club could purchase one but my primary concern is the inconvenience and the practicality of getting it in the hands of those who go on runs. It isn't always accurate because you can get bounced signals off of peaks and if your are in an area that has a lot of trees or narrow canyons you may not get a signal.

November 25, 2020
12:23 pm
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Guy and Lynda
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Jeff_R said

Guy and Lynda said 

Kris, SPOT sounds interesting, what type of service is this?

  

Spot and Garmin's inReach are satellite tracking devices. Some models enable text messaging via satellite. My son has an older Spot device that doesn't have text messaging but it allows us to track his movement (provided you enable it) when he goes on solo backpacking trips in the most remote regions of the eastern Sierra for 4 to 6 weeks in the summer. They are affordable, small, lightweight and can be individually owned. Perhaps the club could purchase one but my primary concern is the inconvenience and the practicality of getting it in the hands of those who go on runs. It isn't always accurate because you can get bounced signals off of peaks and if your are in an area that has a lot of trees or narrow canyons you may not get a signal.

  

Thanks Jeff, it still sounds interesting & affordable (a lot more so than a satellite phone). Since we should never be alone on a run, somebody can venture to a place where text messaging will work. Understand that the logistics about assuring that it would fall in the hands of someone who will be on the runs would be a challenge, but usually someone is close enough to pass it along. I'll look into this online & see what's offered for the price.

November 25, 2020
1:51 pm
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Guy and Lynda
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Just discovered via my Verizon cell account that a satellite phone through them is $12/Mo for the phone x 24 months = $288 total (Black Friday special). The basic service gives you 5GB of service for around $30/Mo. That's way cheaper than cell service. You're correct Kris in saying these services are going down. Sounds like something to look for, regardless of the type of service.

Many other devices are also coming down, but the consideration over reliability should be investigated. If you look at this overall, we don't have to do anything at all, since there always will be someone present where you can catch a ride and or get you to somewhere that does have cell service. I've never been stranded, nor doubt I ever will, but you can look at it like the trailer, using it only once can be well worth while. 

If this goes no further, I understand, as this all started with a "near-situation" that wasn't critical or an emergency.

November 25, 2020
6:24 pm
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Jeff_R
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Guy, I understand your concern. I'm less concerned about breakdowns than I am about a medical emergency. A medical emergency could be a vehicle accident, a heart attack or stroke, a bee sting or any number of potentially life threatening incidents. In emergency medicine there is something called the golden hour. Basically, if you can get someone with serious traumatic injuries or a serious medical condition to an acute care facility within one hour, it greatly increases their chances of survival.

One of my sons is an avid backpacker. As a young man (19 or 20 years old) his first significant backpacking trip was a 10 day trans Sierra solo trip. We insisted he let us buy a Spot GPS tracker. It enables you to program it for intermittent tracking (you have to program the interval in advance) and it enables you to program three custom messages. It also has a 911 type emergency signal and a helping hands signal for non-emergency assistance from family and friends who you select to be notified.

My son goes on 4 to 6 week backpacking trips every summer. He usually spends a week or two with my other son or a friend but the rest is a solo trip. So for us the Spot has been very comforting although he doesn't usually enable the tracking feature, he will always send an I'm OK message when he sets up camp at night. He also gives us a very detailed itinerary and map of his planned trip.

On one week long trip with four friends of his and my younger son he had the tracking enabled. Since some of the the others were inexperienced backpackers, we had made contingency plans in case of an incident or emergency. It was all high elevation, 9000 to 13,000 feet so we made a plan that if someone got altitude sickness they would exit on the western side of the Sierra rather than try to climb back over the pass to get back to their vehicles on the eastern slope near Bishop. We were monitoring his GPS tracks and it appeared to us that they were headed towards the western contingency exit. It turns out that they were in a narrow canyon and lost service for several hours. When we finally got another GPS track it was obvious that something was wrong and that they were headed for the western exit. I ran home from work, threw a few essentials in my truck and hit the road on a seven hour drive to get to where we agreed they would exit in an emergency. After about four hours of driving not knowing what was going on I got a call from my son on a satellite phone at the Muir Trail Ranch, which is a remote resupply ranch for hikers on the John Muir and the Pacific Crest Trails. It turns out that the novice backpacker got lost and his experienced friend developed altitude sickness and couldn't make it back over the pass so they headed west to exit.

We met up at Florence Lake at midnight. I happened to have oxygen so I put his friend on oxygen and drove out while my sons decided to go back the next day and try to locate his lost friends. I told his friend with altitude sickness that I could take him to the ER but he wanted to get back to Sacramento to his wife. We arrive at about 4 a.m. and he ended up going to the ER and was diagnosed with high altitude pulmonary edema. He spent two days in the hospital on diuretics to get the fluid off his lungs.

The lost hikers made it out the next day. Sorry for such a long story but if they had the ability to send a text message things would have gone much smoother. So having the ability to communicate via ham radio or satellite can be extremely valuable and can potentially save a life in certain circumstance.

November 26, 2020
7:51 am
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JohnDF
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It may be time to bring it back...

https://i.postimg.cc/kg0VDf1N/smoke-signals-2-638.jpgImage Enlarger

I used to wheel a lot. . .

November 26, 2020
8:58 am
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Guy and Lynda
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Jeff_R said
Guy, I understand your concern. I'm less concerned about breakdowns than I am about a medical emergency. A medical emergency could be a vehicle accident, a heart attack or stroke, a bee sting or any number of potentially life threatening incidents. In emergency medicine there is something called the golden hour. Basically, if you can get someone with serious traumatic injuries or a serious medical condition to an acute care facility within one hour, it greatly increases their chances of survival.

One of my sons is an avid backpacker. As a young man (19 or 20 years old) his first significant backpacking trip was a 10 day trans Sierra solo trip. We insisted he let us buy a Spot GPS tracker. It enables you to program it for intermittent tracking (you have to program the interval in advance) and it enables you to program three custom messages. It also has a 911 type emergency signal and a helping hands signal for non-emergency assistance from family and friends who you select to be notified.

My son goes on 4 to 6 week backpacking trips every summer. He usually spends a week or two with my other son or a friend but the rest is a solo trip. So for us the Spot has been very comforting although he doesn't usually enable the tracking feature, he will always send an I'm OK message when he sets up camp at night. He also gives us a very detailed itinerary and map of his planned trip.

On one week long trip with four friends of his and my younger son he had the tracking enabled. Since some of the the others were inexperienced backpackers, we had made contingency plans in case of an incident or emergency. It was all high elevation, 9000 to 13,000 feet so we made a plan that if someone got altitude sickness they would exit on the western side of the Sierra rather than try to climb back over the pass to get back to their vehicles on the eastern slope near Bishop. We were monitoring his GPS tracks and it appeared to us that they were headed towards the western contingency exit. It turns out that they were in a narrow canyon and lost service for several hours. When we finally got another GPS track it was obvious that something was wrong and that they were headed for the western exit. I ran home from work, threw a few essentials in my truck and hit the road on a seven hour drive to get to where we agreed they would exit in an emergency. After about four hours of driving not knowing what was going on I got a call from my son on a satellite phone at the Muir Trail Ranch, which is a remote resupply ranch for hikers on the John Muir and the Pacific Crest Trails. It turns out that the novice backpacker got lost and his experienced friend developed altitude sickness and couldn't make it back over the pass so they headed west to exit.

We met up at Florence Lake at midnight. I happened to have oxygen so I put his friend on oxygen and drove out while my sons decided to go back the next day and try to locate his lost friends. I told his friend with altitude sickness that I could take him to the ER but he wanted to get back to Sacramento to his wife. We arrive at about 4 a.m. and he ended up going to the ER and was diagnosed with high altitude pulmonary edema. He spent two days in the hospital on diuretics to get the fluid off his lungs.

The lost hikers made it out the next day. Sorry for such a long story but if they had the ability to send a text message things would have gone much smoother. So having the ability to communicate via ham radio or satellite can be extremely valuable and can potentially save a life in certain circumstance.

  

Jeff, an interesting story & you're right, communications is everything when it comes to emergencies of all kinds. I think Kris has a point, that we need to discuss more about this & possibly decide on something this coming spring. But with that said, I think we should continue with the stories & ideas to keep this subject alive until then. Our discussions need to include medical emergencies as well, since we do get up in altitudes where something like this could happen, not to say a multitude of other medical reasons as well. Our runs mostly are in areas where cell service (or help) is not far away & we all are resourceful enough to find a solution, except in emergencies. Thanks again...

September 11, 2022
5:15 am
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kris_olof
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Dead thread revival time.  Well more COVID tried to kill this thread and I wont let it. 

So it turns out my starlink comment has partially started to come to fruition. T-mobile has signed a deal with Starlink so some time in the next few years devices on their network will have satellite connectivity in near all situations.  And more importantly, Iphone 14 has L and S band connectivity allowing SOS messages to be sent directly using what I think is the globalstar network.  And because of this all of the spot/zoleo/bivy type devices have dropped in price.  

I will probably be purchasing one of the now discounted spot type units at my wife's request pretty quick here.  I will post up my shopping process and testing experience once I pull the trigger.

 

And now for my next prediction, the next Samsung and Pixel phones will have a full fledged sat antenna which apple will introduce in the iphone 17.

September 11, 2022
5:17 am
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kris_olof
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Jamie, please move to general discussion section

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