Garmin has just published some insights capturing info on 10,000 SOS calls to its global emergency response team. They make interesting reading.
The service was launched back in 2011. Devices such as inReach (view on Amazon) allow users to stay in touch wherever they are. Garmin’s Iridium sattelite network provides global sattelite coverage.
With one of these gadgets you can send and receive messages, share location, navigate maps and contact a 24/7 SOS response coordination centre. Something like this is ideal for off-the-grid contact. Better to be safe than sorry, as they say.
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Garmin’s team consists of trained professionals that are there to help you through emergencies. They respond to messages, track your location and coordinate with on-the-ground teams to provide assistance. The company says the emergency team will stay in touch until help is at hand, or the emergency has passed.
An illustration of how userful the service is – it turns out Garmin has received over 10,000 emergency calls in the past decade in over 150 countries. So what do we learn from this data?
Hiking/backpacking injuries happen often
It turns out hiking/backpacking is the activity which carries with it lots of risk. A whopping 39% of all Garmin SOS calls came from folks engaged in such activities. Calls often come from mountainous regions, such as the Pacific Crest Trail in western United States and the Alps in Europe.
Driving was the second activity which triggered the most calls followed by motorcycling. Granted, these might be ordinary accidents, so people might simply be calling Garmin if they’ve had an accident on the road somewhere and don’t have cellular connectivity. So the service can be useful for some seemingly normal activities.
Other “high-triggering” activities on the list include climbing, boating, snowmobiling, hunting and camping. Interestingly, cycling is way down in the rankings. One would have expected it to be higher due to the number of accidents that occur. But as these mostly happen in heavily populated areas, there are other means of contacting emergency services.
As far as the reason why people call, injuries and other trip-ending accidents, along with more general medical issues top the bill. They account for 30% and 17% of the total, respectively.
A trip or fall when hiking can easily cause a sprain or even a broken bone. Then there are other distressing circumstances caused by altitude sickness, heart issues and other health issues.
SOS calls also occur due to vehicle issues, people simply being lost, wildfires, hurricanes, avalanches and more. This illustrates, no matter how much planning goes into an activity – unforseen cirmstances can happen.
The final stats reveal who the calls are made for. Its simple – people most often call for themselves or for someone in their party. These types of calls rougly account for about a third of the total each. Also significant in number are SOS incidents for unknown third-party individuals. Other reasons could be just to report emergencies such as wildfires or vehicle accidents.
Garmin inReach and similar satellite emergency services are becoming more and more commonplace. Apple also has a similar services as do a handful of others. If you are heading off to backcountry, something like this is definitely worth considering.
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