No matter where you are out and about exploring, it’s extremely comforting to know that someone has your back if things suddenly go horribly wrong - and if you’re packing a Garmin device with inReach technology, then emergency help is only a button click away.
Industry leaders in two-way satellite communication, Garmin produce several affordable handheld devices (opens in new tab) with inReach technology, including the nifty new inReach Messenger, which fits in the palm of your hand or in any pocket, and weighs just 114g, and the Garmin inReach Mini 2 (winner of a T3 platinum award). All of these devices enable two-way text messaging, location tracking, and critical communication with SOS emergency response services.
Thousands of outdoor explorers use them as a shrewd insurance policy against calamity, and this week it was reported that the incident blog (opens in new tab) recorded that inReach devices have been used in 10,000 emergency situations around the world since 2011, saving lives and providing comfort both to those involved in the incidents, and their worried friends and family back home.
Hiking/backpacking is by far the activity that has resulted in the most emergency calls being made, but this reflects the large amount of people who enjoy these pursuits, rather than the danger they present. Driving is the next biggest activity names in the SOS stats, followed by motorcycling and then climbing/mountaineering and boating. Also prominently represented on the list are cycling, snow and paddlesports.
Incidents have been recorded on seven continents, and in more than 150 countries. The stats reveal some redspots for accidents - and unsurprisingly these include mountainous regions such as the European Alps, popular but challenging routes like the Pacific Crest Trail, and adventure-tourism destinations like New Zealand - but SOS calls have also been made from hikers and bikers in cities, including Los Angeles, Phoenix and Aspen.
Reported Incidents include injuries, accidents, people getting lost or separated (including children (opens in new tab)), pet emergencies (opens in new tab), and adventurers getting caught up in natural disasters (opens in new tab). Around 20 percent of the SOS calls for assistance were made by passersby who had an inReach device, rather than the person who had suffered an injury or accident.
Garmin claims a 100% global Iridium satellite network coverage, so when an emergency alert is sent out - by someone pressing the SOS button on an inReach device - the distress message is transmitted to Garmin Response, a 24/7-staffed professional emergency response coordination centre. From there the trained team will communicate with the individual in distress, liaise with their listed emergency contacts, and call the appropriate Search & Rescue organisations and resources in the local area. Once a rescue has been mobilised, they let everyone involved know help is on the way and continue to provide updates on the status of the response until the incident is resolved.
"The two-way communication of inReach is so important in an emergency situation. After initiating an SOS, Garmin Response will ask questions to learn more about the incident and what appropriate first responses are needed for rescue, whether a tow-truck or helicopter,” said Sarah Kramlich, Garmin senior director of services and subscription strategy. “We are both proud and humbled to have assisted in 10,000 incidents, but this number is only part of the larger inReach story of providing peace of mind to all inReach users. The two-way communication with all inReach devices has helped countless people self-rescue in low-risk situations, where a friend or family assisting may be more appropriate than an emergency response team.”
“With Garmin inReach’s two-way communication and 24/7 staffed coordination center, help is never out of reach. We are honored to provide this potentially life-saving service and gratified to be the satellite communication device of choice for adventurers all over the world,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of global consumer sales. “Whether on the drive home from a trip or exploring the globe, having an inReach device nearby provides peace of mind that you can quickly connect with emergency coordinators, as well as friends and family.”