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SPOT Rescue Alert: Injured Snowmobiler Rescued From Remote Alaskan Backcountry


Snowmobile Accident Victim Rescued After SPOT Satellite Messenger Sends Distress Message and GPS Location; Wife Kept Informed and Updated on Rescue Progress

May 27, 2008 – SPOT Rescue Alert (SRA) Bill Hanson, a member of an experienced snowmobiling party out for some winter fun in the remote backcountry near Seward, Alaska, initiated a 9-1-1 rescue alert from his SPOT Satellite MessengerTM after two sleds collided head-on. Mr. Hanson’s friend was badly injured as result of the collision between the two, 480 pound machines approximately 150 miles from Anchorage.

The group realized that the man needed immediate medical attention and due to the severity of his injuries, they could not transport him on their own. Twenty-five miles from the nearest road, deep in Nellie Juan Canyon and without phone or radio service, Mr. Hanson initiated a 9-1-1 rescue alert from his SPOT Satellite Messenger, a personal safety device that allows users to communicate from remote locations around the globe and initiate emergency response calls independently of cellular networks.

“I purchased the SPOT Satellite Messenger as a safety precaution of last resort for my frequent outdoor adventures,” said Bill Hanson. “When a group of us departed on March 27th for some snowmobiling in the familiar territory outside of Seward, I had no idea how much we would come to rely on SPOT Messenger’s emergency alert capabilities.” The distress message alerted GEOS International Emergency Response Center personnel, who in turn contacted local authorities with Mr. Hanson’s GPS coordinates. The Alaska Lifeguard Service Chopper was deployed from Anchorage and subsequently landed on a lake near the crash site. The injured party was examined and transported to the Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna, Alaska.

“I was impressed with SPOT’s handling of the emergency rescue alert, but was even more pleased with how well the team at GEOS did at keeping my wife informed of the unfolding events during the rescue,” added Hanson. GEOS communicated with Mr. Hanson’s wife over the phone each time there was an update in events.

“After Bill pressed the 9-1-1 button on his SPOT Satellite Messenger, I received a phone call from GEOS to verify information and inform me of the incident,” said Jodi Hanson, Bill’s wife. “Knowing your loved one could be hurt or worse is devastating. Without their constant updates every 10 minutes during the rescue I couldn’t have gone through this.”

“Emergencies can happen when least expected and the Alaska backcountry is a harsh environment where cellular coverage is likely non-existent,” said Darren Bassel, Director of Marketing for SPOT Inc. “We designed the SPOT Satellite Messenger for exactly this kind of scenario, and we are delighted that a disaster was averted, and that we were able to provide peace-of-mind to affected friends and family.”

The National Association of Search and Rescue estimates there are over 50,000 search and rescue missions launched each year in the United States alone. Most of these are initiated without knowledge of the victims’ location. The SPOT Satellite Messenger gives users a way to alert responders of their GPS location independently of cellular coverage. SPOT enables users, to send their location and message to friends, family, or emergency responders, and to visually track the location of the SPOT satellite messenger through four simple functions:

  • Alert 9-1-1 notifies the emergency response center of your GPS location
  • Ask for Help sends a request for help to friends and family
  • Check In lets contacts know where you are and that you are OK
  • Track Progress sends and saves your location and allows contacts to track your progress using Google Maps™

Weighing just over 7 ounces with a SRP of $169.95 (US), the SPOT Satellite Messenger provides a new level of safety and peace-of-mind for anyone who spends a considerable amount of time in the outdoors or just wants the comfort of knowing that help is available at the push of a button.