What To Do If You Get Lost While Hiking
GPS Tracking Systems Fueling Irresponsibility
Outdoor adventurers are now feeling safer than ever thanks to real-time GPS tracking systems having the ability to record every step they make.”I consider myself an advanced survivalist and outdoor enthusiast, but I still always take a real-time GPS tracking system with me every time I step into the wild in case of an emergency”, stated Brad Stevens, a Phoenix resident. Because real-time GPS tracking systems can allow family members or potential rescuers the ability to efficiently access a lost person’s location, many outdoor enthusiasts are now taking greater risks than they are unprepared or qualified to take because of a perception that nothing bad can happen to them as long as they have a real-time GPS tracking system. Search and rescue services are now running a public media campaign to educate novice, moderate, and even advanced outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers that having a real-time GPS tracking system does not guarantee safety, and the tracking systems should still be used responsibly.
Using Personal Locator Beacons For Hiking
A real-time GPS tracking system is a small device that can send an individual’s GPS coordinates or location to search and rescue personnel if an emergency were ever to occur. Real-time GPS tracking systems can be purchased for approximately $400 for the device hardware and have a monthly service fee of approximately $40 per month. The tracking system data can be examined by a software program or over the Internet.
Now that real-time GPS tracking systems are a common tool used by outdoor enthusiasts, search and rescue personnel is seeing an increase in misuse and carelessness surrounding the tracking system use. Many search and rescue coordinators are seeing such a high frequency of these false alarms with real-time GPS tracking systems that they are now referring to them as “Yuppy 911 Devices”. What more and more search and rescue officials are seeing is that people are stepping into the wild and are completely reliant and dependent on not only GPS tracking system technology, but technology altogether, and they have lost the ability to use simple common sense in many scenarios. The two main GPS tracking system related problems facing search and rescuers is:
- Many people are taking additional risks that they should not be taking because they feel safe with a real-time GPS tracking system.
- Many people are calling for assistance, giving search and rescuers the GPS tracking system data, when an emergency is not present.
Search and rescuers believe real-time GPS tracking systems are great tools, but people need to be more responsible before stepping into the wild and not believing that they are 100% safe because of a tracking system or GPS.
Search and Rescue GPS Tracking
Search and rescuers have to respond to every call for help or anytime a person sends an alert with their GPS tracking system. The situation is very similar to police responding to a hang-up 911 call, they never know what to expect or how great the danger is. However, it is now so common that search and rescuers to receive false alarms from the GPS tracking systems that it is becoming a wasteful use of valuable resources. Not to mention, every time search and rescuers have to respond to an alert from a live GPS tracking device they are putting their own lives at risk trying to help the ones who were irresponsible in the first place.
An anonymous search and rescuer stated, “When people do not properly prepare and call for help simply because they are uncomfortable it creates a hardship for search and rescue personnel”. This was never more evident than when a man hiking in the San Bernardino mountains had to stay an additional night in an area because some fast weather rolled through and he activated his hiking GPS because he did not want to be late anymore. When the man activated his GPS tracking system, search and rescuers pulled together resources in an all-out search effort, only to help a man who was clearly irresponsible.
Before making or planning a trip into the wild, search and rescue officials suggest proper planning of potential environmental and weather conditions and always recognizing limits. Real-time GPS tracking systems are great tools, but they should only be used in a real emergency.
Matthew is a freelance writer who is passionate about technology, music, photography, and decentralized finance.