Search And Rescue Reviews Emergency Location Devices
Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit (TCSAR) strongly recommends an emergency location device for anyone heading into the backcountry. Pointing out that Tuolumne County’s vast backcountry has little to no cellular coverage they share the pros and cons of different devices as well as their own experience in a new blog here.
Tuolumne County receives limited state funds apportioned for search and rescue. TCSAR states they benefit greatly from users of SARSAT and other satellite devices and note they are seeing increasing numbers of recreationists using emergency communicators. They share, “The cost (to all of us taxpayers) is reduced by knowing the nature of the emergency and using only what means are necessary and most effective for the rescue. A lost person call, where the missing has no means of communication, involves numerous resources like tracking dogs, aircraft, personnel (on ATVs, etc.) …all thrown out in an attempt to find the missing as soon as possible. Aircraft costs alone are extremely expensive.” They add, “If these funds were further limited in the future, it might be that families of the missing would be billed for search expenses, a practice that occurs in other jurisdictions around the U.S.”
Because of Tuolumne County’s remote and inaccessible backcountry, the search and rescue unit warns even a targeted response to an activated beacon may involve an extended time before rescue arrives. They ask for individuals to travel with a good first aid kit, necessary medications, etc. and to be careful keeping in mind that as a general rule, the more the 911 center knows about the nature of the emergency, the quicker the response will be.
Also, TCSAR requests individuals take precautions to avoid accidentally activating their device, noting that “…a large amount of the activations our dispatch center receives are inadvertent. So far, most of those have been from inReach devices, probably due to their popularity and market share.”