News Item

GPS creating more SOS calls

Proliferation of technology has led to an epidemic of rescues for people who don’t need help.

A US mountaineer and author claims that the proliferation of GPS, cell and satellite phones, emergency locator devices and similar technology has led to a spate of rescues of people who have called for help that they don’t need.

It is reported that SAR units around the US are regularly having to cope with false alerts from people who consider that 'gadgetry guarantees safety'.

It seems that ever more people are carrying personal locator beacons (PLBs) into the wilderness - and with the push of a button they can send out an emergency distress signal, but with no info about their predicament.

The author believes that the problem lies in the devices having engendered a radical shift in the concept of adventure - hikers, skiers and boaters not only expect to be whisked to safety at the push of a button, but they regard this luxury to be an inalienable right.

He concludes that far more people are now venturing into the countryside without even minimal survival skills - and many carry gadgets that they think of as get-out-of-jail-free cards...more of them than ever before will be rescued from their own incompetence.

And too many of their rescuers will be endangered, injured or even killed.

David Roberts' article in The New York Times can be downloaded below.

  • 16 August 2012
  • NOF

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