Search and rescue reviews emergency locator devices

The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit (TCSAR) strongly recommends an emergency locator device for anyone going into the backcountry. Pointing out that the vast backcountry of Tuolumne County has little to no cell coverage, they share the pros and cons of different devices along with their own experience in a new blog post here.

Tuolumne County receives limited state funds allocated for search and rescue. TCSAR states that they benefit greatly from users of SARSAT and other satellite devices and note that they are seeing an increasing number of recreational enthusiasts using emergency communicators. They share: “The cost (to all of us taxpayers) is reduced by knowing the nature of the emergency and using only the necessary and most effective means for rescue. A lost person call, where the missing person has no means of communication, involves many resources like tracking dogs, planes, personnel (on ATVs, etc.)… all thrown away in an attempt to find the missing person the as quickly as possible. Aircraft costs alone are extremely expensive. They add, “If these funds were further limited in the future, the families of the missing could be charged for search costs, a practice that occurs in other jurisdictions in the United States.”

Due to Tuolumne County’s remote and inaccessible backcountry, the Search and Rescue Unit warns that even a targeted response to an activated beacon can mean an extended delay before help arrives. They ask people to travel with a good first aid kit, necessary medications, etc. and be careful, keeping in mind that generally, the more the 911 center knows about the nature of the emergency, the faster the response will be .

Additionally, TCSAR urges individuals to take precautions to avoid accidentally activating their device, noting that “…a large portion of the activations our dispatch center receives are unintentional. So far, most of they were from inReach devices, likely due to their popularity and market share.”

Read the full “Emergency Locator Devices” blog here.

Amanda J. Marsh