Satellite Emergency Messaging Devices, or SEND, are a class of device that’s become very popular for backcountry travellers and remote workers. Examples of these devices include the SPOT Personal Tracker and Garmin Inreach devices.
All of these devices combine the functions of a GPS with a commercial satellite phone in text only (SMS) mode. They are not able to make voice calls, but they can send text messages through various gateways to email, mobile phones and to social media.
Triggering a SEND device means hitting the “SOS” or “911” button intended to issue an emergency alert call for help. Each device is different but the button often has a cover or other mechanism intended to prevent it from being activated by accident.
When a SEND device is triggered, the following sequence of events occur
- User’s position and request for help are sent through a commercial satellite system to a ground monitoring agency
- Agency passes along the alert to appropriate, local responding ageny.
In British Columbia this is the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Victoria, BC
- The JRCC determines what kind of response is required.
For ground-base alerts they send the message to EMBC’s Emergency Coordination Centre in Saanichton BC
- The ECC activates the nearest BC Ground Search and Rescue Team
- The team mobilizes with resources depending on the location and severity of the incident.