For Joe Federer, it’s become a tradition that every second year he and his friend Andris get together for a water related adventure trip. In July of 2015, they had planned a trip to the north shore of Georgian Bay, Ontario to circumnavigate Philip Edward Island, which is located South of Killarney. For this experienced pair, their trips are always well planned in advance including essential safety gear – Joe always brings his SPOT Satellite Messenger on these adventures in case of emergency.
On July 9th as they headed out on the water with their kayaks, they decided they’d each paddle to a different landing area of the Island. Andris landed in a sheltered area of the Island, and realized it wasn’t well suited to disembark so he decided to find another location. When getting back in the boat, he slipped and fell on his elbow seriously injuring his right shoulder. Despite his injury he was able to bring his kayak to an area where there was a shallow entrance. Joe had some trouble getting to Andris’ location but knew he needed help. He tried calling 911 on his cell phone, but lost the signal and the call was dropped. When his cell phone failed, Joe said “I hit the SOS button on my SPOT, this is what I got it for”. Although the dropped cell phone call first alerted the rescue process, the SPOT SOS signal added critical GPS location detail: Joe’s wife was contacted by emergency rescue after they received the call and GPS coordinates from Globalstar.
Within a half hour of using SPOT to send an SOS urgent assistance request that included their GPS location coordinates, emergency rescue services arrived by boat. An ambulance had also been dispatched and was waiting for them back on the dock. From there, Andris was transported to the Sudbury Hospital for treatment.
Following this incident, Joe offers some advice to novice adventurers who may be thinking about embarking on an adventure this summer – and maybe for the first time. “Before you do anything, go and get yourself a SPOT device and sign up for the service. More experienced adventurers would know what to do if an emergency strikes, as they’ve probably had a close call at some point. But for those who are inexperienced, you need to have a plan. You have no idea what you might be getting into or how isolated a lot of Canada is. I would also strongly recommend to even experienced adventurers that they have SPOT to watch their backs. Even people who think they know what they’re doing, can need help.”
FAST FACT: According to the National Search and Rescue Secretariat, Canada has one of the world’s largest areas of responsibility for search and rescue, covering 18 million square kilometres of land and water.
Joe adds, “a cell phone signal is only good within a few kilometers of a cell phone tower, so you need to have a backup device like SPOT”.
The injury Andris sustained took about 6 weeks to heal, and the pair are already thinking about their next adventure. Reflecting back on this incident, Joe says, “I did the right thing using SPOT to contact emergency rescue. Without SPOT, the situation could have been disastrous”.