The day I triggered my PLB

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The day I triggered my PLB

Postby crollsurf » Thu 31 Mar, 2022 8:41 pm

A PLB is a “Personal Location Beacon” and every solo walker or hiking party should carry some kind of emergency device. It can save your life, or save you from an epic, extraordinarily painful self-rescue.

I’ve walked for years with a PLB and wondered, from time to time, if I would ever end up using it. This is about that time I rolled my ankle and realised that day had come.

The Trip Report

It had been many years since I’d walked the Main Range Loop in the Kosciuszko National Park and I had a new pack that needed a shakedown. As familiar as I am with the country, there were still places I had never walked. Mount Du Four, Alice Rawson Peak and to my surprise, Blue Lake, although I may have visited Blue Lake a long time ago, Ski touring.

Sounded like a plan so I drove to Charlottes Pass. Walked to Seamans Hut, had a cup of Tea, then past the crowd at Rawson Pass and followed the track to Mueller Pass.

Along the way, I bumped into a couple of NP Rangers. I told them I was heading to Townsend and asked about the track closure, on the Eastern side of Lake Albina. Most were by-passing the track-work and walking the Northcote ridge. An alternative was to walk down to Lake Albina and then up to Mount Lee, which caught my imagination.

An early lunch overlooking Lake Albina then up to Muellers Peak. The traverse along Muellers Peak was fun but to cut a long story short, rain and not finding a campsite in the Abbot-Townsend saddle, meant I ended up camping on the eastern side of Townsend.

20220315_184510.jpg
Campsite east of Townsend

The next morning, I headed up to Alice Rawson Peak, while my tent dried out. Returned, had breakfast, and headed across to a ridgeline I had scoped out, and sauntered down to Lake Albina.

Walking down from Alice Rawson peak was spectacular. The variety of vegetation and views are maybe the best the Snowy Mountain has to offer. Walking cautiously, zig zagging around, avoiding any big steps or jumps to save my knees because today’s plan included a fair bit of up and down. I wanted to save the knees for later in the day. It was once down below the waterline of Lake Albina, that things went seriously wrong.

life couldnt be better.jpg
Heading to Albina, life couldn't be better

Walking across a relatively flat section of grass, not Alpine Tussock, my foot slipped on the wet grass. I half crumpled, half tried to recover and then went down, I heard two loud cracks and one smaller crack! I knew immediately his wasn’t your normal rolled ankle you could walk off.

Shock set in instantly. I was initially worried about my bad knee, but it was fine and I think it actually cracked my knee back into place. Its better now than it has been for years! While in shock, you’re relatively pain free. I took this opportunity to check my knee and ankle and have a feel around. I wasn’t vomiting so hopefully nothing was broken.

I couldn’t walk straight away and rested for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, I considered what could be the self-rescue route, and if it would leave me in an even worse position. I was at least a day’s crawling to get to the main track, and once spotted, rescue services would be called. It would probably be a waste of time and pain.
Testing my ankle confirmed bits were seriously not right. At that point I realised, that day had come. The day to pull the trigger on my PLB.

After another 10 minutes to make sure my thinking was right, I set off the PLB, crawled around and pegged out my tent, not properly, just laid out on the ground. I laid out my yellow sleeping mat for rescuers to see, put on warm clothing and got out of the intermittent rain. The shock started to subside by then and the pain starting setting in. I started shivering from shock, took 4 Panadol and waited. I even started reading an Isaac Asimov novel, in a vain attempt to take my mind off my situation and the pain.

The PLB was flashing but had the authorities picked up the signal? Were they going to come? I didn’t know, but worst case, I had 3 days of food and a ridiculous amount of Protein Bars LOL. By that time, my partner would have notified authorities. Hopefully.
Last edited by crollsurf on Thu 31 Mar, 2022 9:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby crollsurf » Thu 31 Mar, 2022 8:48 pm

The Rescue

Three hours passed and a helicopter arrived, circled, then circled again, headed off to around where the track-workers were, a couple of kilometres away.

Then the pilot returns and touches down on a boulder 100 metres away. Surely their not going to land there! Amazing. He didn’t quite land. He sat it down long enough for a Paramedic to climb out and then left.

rescue arrives.jpg
The eagle has landed

The Paramedic walked up, we had a quick chat about the situation, checked out my injuries, got me ready for evacuation and explained what was going to happen. He then called the Helicopter back.

Meanwhile some track-workers arrived which was fortuitous, because they were able to take my pack and leave it at the National Parks Office.

I was winched into the aircraft.

It took 40 minutes to fly to Canberra and then another short Ambulance ride to get to hospital. And at that stage, its as if you just walked off the street and into the Emergency Unit, although the Paramedic did help me jump the queue and get comfortable on a bed. X-rays confirmed I had broken my Fibula, a cast was put on and a few days later, I was back in Sydney for surgery.

What I didn’t know at the time, was everything else going on in the background. 4 people playing cards get a call out, jump in the helicopter, save me and then back to playing cards. Not quite.

Soon after I set off the PBL, my wife gets a phone call from the SES. Asking questions about me but couldn’t tell her anything, because they don’t know what has happened either. You can imagine she was starting to stress out. SES then start calling in the troupes and getting ready in case the helicopter couldn’t rescue me. Two Ambulances headed up the mountain, Jindabyne Police rang my partner, “Is he suicidal?” among other questions, making sure I wasn’t a danger to the rescuers. National Parks get notified and send out the word to staff. There would have been others as well.

I have no idea but imagine there must have been at least 30 people directly involved in my rescue. That’s a lot of resources! and it’s great to know they’ll do everything they can to get you to safety as quickly as possible.
Last edited by crollsurf on Thu 31 Mar, 2022 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby crollsurf » Thu 31 Mar, 2022 8:49 pm

Thoughts and Observations

I don’t think I did anything wrong; I wasn’t being stupid or showing off, I was prepared in case of an accident, and I had a good idea of what to do in the circumstances. But I do think I could have done some things better. There is a wealth of information out there about walking safely but here are a few things that I’m not sure I’ve read about before

I’ve changed my view as a PLB being the right choice. If you don’t have a lot of money, a PLB is a perfectly good choice, but the ability to communicate your situation to rescuers and loved ones is worth the extra cost and monthly subscription fees, to have two-way satellite communications. I’ll buy an Inreach Mini as soon as I’m back on my feet.

Age, weight and fitness does matter. I can’t get any younger, but I could have been fitter and less overweight. The way my foot slipped and the way I fell, it probably would have broken my leg anyway, but then again, maybe not. And it could make all the difference if I have an accident into the future. I’m also losing muscle tone in recovery. Being fitter than you “need” to be makes a difference.

Wearing runners could have been more of a contributing factor. Not so much as far as support goes but a more traditional hiking boot, tends to give better grip over a wider variety of terrain. I have wide, slightly pronate feet and it’s so easy to find a pair of runners that are right for me. Finding the right hiking boots is a lot harder. I love runners but now, I think I’ll pay $$$ and get proper custom foot beds (for my pronation) and move back to a regular hiking shoe. I suspect I have lost proprioception in that ankle for now, so a mid-boot or strapping tape will be required for the next couple of years.

Fixomull might be great for blisters, but it’s not strapping tape. I’ll never walk without strapping tape again. It didn’t make a difference this time but when considering self-rescue options, I regretted not having strapping tape. Make sure you know how to strap ankles and knees at the very least.

Just because you didn’t vomit, doesn’t mean no bones are broken.

Take your wallet or at least some ID and a credit card/cash. Sitting in a hospital with only the cloths you’re wearing, no credit card, no cash and a phone with 20% power remaining, is going to make life more stressful than it needs to be.

Don’t be embarrassed. We pay a lot of taxes over our working lives. Billions squandered for political favour and gain every year. Spending a few dollars on you, when you need it, is not a problem. In fact, rescuing you straight up could be cheaper on the public purse than the extra damage done through self-rescue. As a side note, a common reason for rescue is people getting lost. Now that would be embarrassing for an experienced walker but still, a potentially valid reason to trigger your PLB.

There you go, not good but it happened, and it can happen and it does happen. Only this time it was me
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby bigkev » Fri 01 Apr, 2022 8:28 am

Thanks for sharing your story and observations crollsurf - I'm glad everything worked out OK for you.

I swung over to an inreach after my AAWT walk - cheap insurance I think. You do have to manage the battery life (compared to a locater beacon) especially if you are also using it as a tracker or for basic communication with people back home.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Xplora » Fri 01 Apr, 2022 8:54 am

Good to know all worked out for you. You come across quite relaxed. It was not mentioned but I would assume you tried your phone before setting off the PLB. That is the first thing to try and much better than a PLB if you can get reception. Enjoy the recovery if that can be done.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Kickinghorse » Fri 01 Apr, 2022 9:20 am

An excellent recount of your situation Crollsurf. As in all these things experiences and outcomes differ. In my case I had my partner with me and rarely walk alone which is another consideration when on extended walks re backup. Diane slung my pack forward to the front and was able to relieve me of that weight at least. We were at the bottom of ladders in the BMNP, so I was able climb back up using my good foot. Allied with that was the use of my poles when reaching flatter spots.
I realised from the beginning that things were not good from when I first looked down to see my foot at right a right angle to my leg but as you say pain doesn’t really set in till later on.
The other point alluded to re mid cut boots is that I didn’t unlace to have a look as I was aware that the boot collar was holding things together to some degree (broken fibula) I wouldn’t have got it back on if I had due to swelling.
Once at the top Diane was able to jog back to the car and come back to pick me up. So all in all my situation was a little different but Croll you did the right thing, whereas my sense of misplaced pride could have placed me in a far worse predicament.
I also have been carrying around various generations of PLB for for quite a while now but will follow the lead and invest in a messenger type device once I get off the b…y crutches!

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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby headwerkn » Fri 01 Apr, 2022 9:37 am

Likewise thanks for sharing. I always find these stories of real world rescues a fascinating and very meaningful insight into the realities of how bad situations are managed when out bush. Know the limitations of helicopters and rescue crews especially, which can shape your own plans and actions and not treat devices like PLBs as a simple "Get Out Of Jail Free Card".

We recently had to do an unplanned overnight bivvy. We half expected we were in for a massive trip and thus were all well prepared for a long walk into the night to get back to camp. After hours of clambering over elevated fallen timber and down sudden short cliffs in the dark, in dense bush, the dual realisations that 1. the risk of falling/getting injured was increasing significantly as we tired and 2. if someone did break a leg etc. a helicopter couldn't simply pluck us from our current location, and we'd still be faced with another couple of hours of punching through scrub before being accessible, made the decision to call it a night, find a soft spot and pull out the foil bags a pretty easy one.

Total agreement on the InReach/Sat Communicator over a PLB. Yes, scientific debates over signal strength do make me wonder at times, but at least with my InReach if I don't get a response with 10-20 mins I know I have a problem with reception that I have to fix. Not to mention all the useful non-emergency advantages. Honestly, the cheapest insurance you'll ever find.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby GregG » Fri 01 Apr, 2022 2:08 pm

Thanks for a very informative and thought provoking story Croll, you have touched on a number of points that I have been mulling over in recent times viz. walking solo in remote locations, boots vs shoes, self rescue vs knowing when to call in SAR. Luckily I have never had to call on outside assistance but have on occasions been fortunate to have capable people on hand to help me out of a spot of bother, and vice versa, but as Dirty Harry said a man has to know his limitations. Like you, my knees and ankles are carrying a bit of battle damage these days and I find it difficult to be certain of my capabilities, what you have said certainly reinforces to me, amongst other things, the need to have a credible back-up plan and to carry a PLB and to know when to use it. It sounds like you made all the right decisions, thanks for telling your story, I wish you a speedy recovery.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby JohnnoMcJohnno » Fri 01 Apr, 2022 2:27 pm

Wow! What an adventure. Thankyou for sharing, glad you're OK and I hope you have a speedy recovery. I am about to go on a solo walk in Namadgi National Park, and you have given me much food for thought.

I carry a PLB. I agree some sort of communication device like an Inreach or a Spot would be nice, but I like the fact that the PLB doesn't need a subscription to work. And while an inreach will do a few things (all of which use battery) the PLB only has one thing to do. Anyway the PLB is all I have at the moment. 3 hours waiting time for rescue from a remote location seems pretty reasonable.

Incidentally, great photo's. I doubt I would have the presence of mind to be taking a photo while in serious pain.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Moondog55 » Fri 01 Apr, 2022 2:48 pm

Thanx
I carry a PLB to make my beloved happy and less stressed. Just goes to show that s**t happens even to the best of us.
Hopefully I will never need mine but I'll carry it
Thanx again.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby potato » Fri 01 Apr, 2022 3:47 pm

I'm going to say it as I'm sure others are thinking it... you went out alone. This to me put a large reliance on the PLB and the rescue teams to come get you.

20 years ago we managed risk with experience and by walking with others. But now I feel (well I see the tas police heli flying out to the south coast track every other day) people are not assessing the risks properly thanks to PLBs.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby johnw » Fri 01 Apr, 2022 9:02 pm

Thanks for sharing a very honest and informative report crollsurf. I hope you are on the mend.
I can easily transpose myself mentally into your situation. I know that area pretty well, outside of winter, and have walked most of it.
Yes, the walk directly down from Alice Rawson to Albina is spectacular, but I also found myself carefully dodging potential hazards, as well as sensitive areas.
And I too ultimately became injured (much less seriously - strained my already dodgy knee), albeit on the climb out to Mt Lee.
I don't believe you did anything wrong either. But it's good to reflect and see if anything could have been done differently.
As another solo walker (95% of the time), I don't think it would have made a significant difference if you were in a group in the circumstances described.
IMHO there's no way anyone would carry you out from down there, so the result of activating the PLB/rescue would have likely been the same.
I also carry a PLB for anything remote and/or with zero/limited mobile reception, and believe it is cheap insurance.
For the amount of walking I do currently, I couldn't justify a subscription based device but understand your decision to now do that.
Ironically, if you had the accident back up on the peak you could have made a phone call, but not down near the lake.
My son had a remote canyoning accident in the Blue Mountains a number of years ago. Similarly, neither he nor the group he was with did anything wrong.
We got confirmation of that from Police Rescue, who were extremely supportive and helpful, in addition to the great work in getting him out and transferred to hospital.
It was a minor slip that could have happened to any of them, but it meant he couldn't walk/climb out due to a severe, though temporary, leg injury. So the party decided to hit the PLB.
Similarly we got a phone call from one of those who had eventually walked out, but little detail. I knew who to ring, and got feedback that they were waiting for a weather window for the chopper.
Eventually he was winched out etc and has long since recovered, though it took many months at the time. He had a PLB on the day, although I think they triggered a club issued one, and he still carries one.
Last edited by johnw on Sat 02 Apr, 2022 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Orion » Sat 02 Apr, 2022 1:43 am

I was with a friend who fell and was injured on a long walk. As we were evaluating his injury he went into shock and become unresponsive for a period of time. He recovered from that and was fully lucid from then on but it was disturbing to witness. It was a factor in our decision to call for help. He could walk slowly but we were, at best, 3 days away from the road. We thought his injury needed more immediate attention. The third person in our group had a Garmin satellite messenger and used that to initiate a rescue.

Of course having a two-way messenger was very useful for conveying the specifics of the injury, our precise location, as well as coordinating the rescue. That said, we mostly just waited for a long, long time for a helicopter to arrive (they were all extremely busy with what has become an annual fire emergency). Given our location I'm not sure how much difference it would have made if we had used a PLB instead. But it gave us piece of mind to have better communication. And it allowed us to alert loved ones of the situation. Getting a call from the authorities after a PLB notification would be very distressing to a spouse or parent.

Still, the odds of such an emergency are pretty low. Most of us will never need a rescue or even be party to one. So, like other forms of insurance, one has to weigh the cost/benefit. If you knew an emergency was likely you'd carry a satellite messenger, maybe even a satellite phone. Or maybe you'd rethink how you recreated. A PLB is still a pretty good device. It's always charged. It's durable. It wasn't all that long ago that even PLBs didn't exist for walkers. It won't be that much longer before mobile phone coverage is virtually total.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Warin » Sat 02 Apr, 2022 9:39 am

Orion wrote: It won't be that much longer before mobile phone coverage is virtually total.


:lol:

If you need phone coverage .. get a satellite phone.

It will be decades before cell phone coverage is even 50% of Australia's area.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby myrtlegirl » Sat 02 Apr, 2022 11:53 am

I was on a walk where rescue was required. An InReach was set off - BUT IT FAILED (confirmed this with AMSA). The InReach was new. The owner had been using it to track, and when they set it off there was a message saying something like resuming tracking, and the screen was frozen. Owner has been in contact with Garmin.

One of the group scampered up a peak and was able to text a reliable and well-organised person who knew where we were and knew the area (and was very firm with the police when they were saying "are you sure? We've had no notification of a device being set off").
Another person in the group had the Emergency Plus app (an absolute must!), and the mountain goat texted the lat/longs - this involved the app person calling out the lat/longs from their position to someone halfway up the peak who then called them out to the mountain goat.

The helicopter arrived about an hour later, and luckily the injured person's pack could also be taken.

The rest of the group walked out.

A few of my thoughts after this experience:
- carry more than one PLB/sat messenger per group (we had several). In fact, we all now think we will always carry one each, and preferably have a mix of PLB's and sat messengers in a group, and encourage everyone in groups to each have one. Rationales: you never know if one will fail; the device might be inaccessible because it's with the casualty lying splattered at the bottom of the cliff; the rescue folks take it very seriously if there's 2 devices set off.

- PLB vs sat messenger (not a full list by any means): PLB is very easy to use. If the owner of the sat messenger is the unconscious person, others need to know how to use it, and an emergency is not a good time to learn/recall that brief user lesson/find the instruction manual. PLB is also dedicated to that sole job, and low battery won't be an issue (test it often though). Sat messenger has the excellent advantage of 2-way communications, thus letting rescue services know what the situation is, and they let you know if they've got your message. Having both devices in a group would be ideal. If I walked alone I'd take both.

- Emergency Plus app is really good. Download it now. You may end up using at home, work, on the road, etc.

- a reliable person who knows where you are is worth their weight in gold/beer/chocolate.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby GBW » Sat 02 Apr, 2022 12:20 pm

myrtlegirl wrote:I was on a walk where rescue was required. An InReach was set off - BUT IT FAILED (confirmed this with AMSA). The InReach was new. The owner had been using it to track, and when they set it off there was a message saying something like resuming tracking, and the screen was frozen. Owner has been in contact with Garmin.



Do you have any further details on this as to the cause?
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby crollsurf » Sat 02 Apr, 2022 1:59 pm

Thanks for all your well wishes and experiences. Good news for me. 10 days later and doctors are really happy with the surgery and recovery. I'm now out of the cast and into a CAM boot for the next 4 weeks. Can't walk on it but still, I can put some weight on it. So much better than the cast.

Xplora wrote:... It was not mentioned but I would assume you tried your phone before setting off the PLB...

No phone reception other than as johnw mentioned. It is available up higher

Kickinghorse wrote:...once I get off the b…y crutches!

Not wrong, hope you get out of that cast soon. Lying there with an itch you can't scratch. :twisted:

potato wrote:I'm going to say it as I'm sure others are thinking it... you went out alone.

I did and agree it's best to walk with others. While I regularly go for day walks with friends and family, I've only got 2 friends that are into multi-day walks and both have busy lives. Fortunately both are keen ski tourers so never been ski touring alone. I'll walk with friends when I can but I do like walking solo as well and play it extra safe when I do.

GregG wrote:but as Dirty Harry said a man has to know his limitations...

That's for sure, especially when solo. Some things you don't think twice about in a group becomes a risk when solo. I've got my feet wet a number of times crossing creeks rather than risking using a fallen log to cross. I once had to abandon getting to Cooches Crater when probably less than 200m away, because of a rock face that was easy enough to scramble (in a group no worries) but the consequences if I had a tumble, could have been very serious and not worth the risk.

myrtlegirl wrote:An InReach was set off - BUT IT FAILED (confirmed this with AMSA)... Another person in the group had the Emergency Plus app (an absolute must!)


Inreach FAILED. didn't read that in the brochure. I guess like PLB's you need to test before you go but that's a real concern it failed!!

I've got the Emergency Plus app. The really good thing about that app is if you tell them you're using Emergency Plus, there is no ambiguity about which coordinate system you're using. A simple app that does very little but a must have all the same.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Warin » Sat 02 Apr, 2022 2:35 pm

I broke a leg and collar bone at the same time... = walk on cast. Not really a problem .. other than wearing out the bottom of the cast!

Itches inside the cast? Well they don't want you poking anything down there because you will damage your skin. However a mild blast of compressed air does wonders... just avoid the smell afterwards!
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Orion » Sat 02 Apr, 2022 2:37 pm

Warin wrote:It will be decades before cell phone coverage is even 50% of Australia's area.

Maybe I'm being overly optimistic about technology but it wasn't that long ago that it was believed that cell phones would never be a replacement for land lines. The future of mobile phones (not cell phones) is likely just as difficult to predict accurately. We'll see.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Kickinghorse » Sat 02 Apr, 2022 3:03 pm

Not an issue re the cast pong or itch Crolly as I have a plate and ten screws!

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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 02 Apr, 2022 4:52 pm

Only been involved in one accident and rescue [ collapsing cornice on Feathertop and somebody with a shattered leg plus one broken ] and if there had been PLBs available then it would have saved 5 or 6 hours, as that is how long it took the couple of young fit blokes to run down the mountain and raise the alarm. No air ambulance in those days and it had to be proved that the injured had insurance cover before the BHP helicopter would move from Sale, $2000- an hour in 1980 dollars.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby crollsurf » Sat 02 Apr, 2022 5:47 pm

Kickinghorse wrote:Not an issue re the cast pong or itch Crolly as I have a plate and ten screws!

Phil
I only got 6 screws, you got 10 and walked out on it!

I must be getting soft in my old age. ;)

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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Xplora » Sun 03 Apr, 2022 5:58 am

Orion wrote:
Warin wrote:It will be decades before cell phone coverage is even 50% of Australia's area.

Maybe I'm being overly optimistic about technology but it wasn't that long ago that it was believed that cell phones would never be a replacement for land lines. The future of mobile phones (not cell phones) is likely just as difficult to predict accurately. We'll see.


I chatted with a bloke from Sydney who is developing technology to replace mobile phone towers with low altitude satellites that can be accessed by normal mobile phones instead of sat phones. Early days though and his trouble is getting funding. Forget the remote areas we go to just for fun, there are many remote communities that have no mobile phone reception. I live in one. Landlines fail regularly. There is an expectation now for many that good communication is right and not a privilege. It does save lives and I have battled with the government for nearly 7 years to improve (provide) communication on a 100km stretch of road that people keep dying on. It all comes down to money.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Kickinghorse » Sun 03 Apr, 2022 7:37 am

Crolly a wild exaggeration on my part. Rechecked the x rays and there’s only 8 screws.

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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Warin » Sun 03 Apr, 2022 10:20 am

Xplora wrote:I chatted with a bloke from Sydney who is developing technology to replace mobile phone towers with low altitude satellites that can be accessed by normal mobile phones instead of sat phones. Early days though and his trouble is getting funding. Forget the remote areas we go to just for fun, there are many remote communities that have no mobile phone reception. I live in one. Landlines fail regularly. There is an expectation now for many that good communication is right and not a privilege. It does save lives and I have battled with the government for nearly 7 years to improve (provide) communication on a 100km stretch of road that people keep dying on. It all comes down to money.


Not only funding for that satellite coverage - things are getting more and more crowed up there with more and more satellites wizzing around...

The situation in Africa is worth considering. Cheaper to put in cell phone towers compared with landlines, even in populated areas.
And then there is the Oodnadatta Track ... there the locals got funding for CB radio coverage as the 2G cell phone that used to cover it from the main highway went to 3G and reduced coverage...
The NBN ... not that reliable in the bush .. and even cell phone coverage failed in the recent bushfires.

Telstra had mobile satellite connection to their network that would provide fixed line connection to payphones for remote events. That could be changed to provide an emergency cell phone service .. the 3 second delay is something most users find annoying but they do manage to get messages across.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Xplora » Sun 03 Apr, 2022 10:57 am

Warin wrote:
Xplora wrote:I chatted with a bloke from Sydney who is developing technology to replace mobile phone towers with low altitude satellites that can be accessed by normal mobile phones instead of sat phones. Early days though and his trouble is getting funding. Forget the remote areas we go to just for fun, there are many remote communities that have no mobile phone reception. I live in one. Landlines fail regularly. There is an expectation now for many that good communication is right and not a privilege. It does save lives and I have battled with the government for nearly 7 years to improve (provide) communication on a 100km stretch of road that people keep dying on. It all comes down to money.


Not only funding for that satellite coverage - things are getting more and more crowed up there with more and more satellites wizzing around...

The situation in Africa is worth considering. Cheaper to put in cell phone towers compared with landlines, even in populated areas.
And then there is the Oodnadatta Track ... there the locals got funding for CB radio coverage as the 2G cell phone that used to cover it from the main highway went to 3G and reduced coverage...
The NBN ... not that reliable in the bush .. and even cell phone coverage failed in the recent bushfires.

Telstra had mobile satellite connection to their network that would provide fixed line connection to payphones for remote events. That could be changed to provide an emergency cell phone service .. the 3 second delay is something most users find annoying but they do manage to get messages across.


Mobile phone towers require a lot of power to run and functionally reduce the available coverage to 5 or 10 km if solar powered with battery backup. Backhaul (connecting to the exchange) in remote areas is either with satellite or microwave as optical fibre does not exist and the copper network not big enough to carry enough users. Low altitude satellites are not geostationary and rely on a number of satellites passing over in procession to maintain coverage. That is part of the problem but low altitude sats will improve ping (latency) so the delay will not be as bad. Mobile phone towers and remote exchanges are often affected by bushfire but that is not a problem for satellites. Maybe solar flares are though. Just ask Elon Musk. Satellite NBN is OK and quite reliable. Not fast but still better than nothing. Installation is free but there are considerable data restrictions and it is getting crowded also. Some suburban areas are now being approved for satellite NBN because it is cheaper than putting in cable. NBN and Sat NBN gives provision for WiFi calling (depending on the device and provider) but it is can be a bit scratchy and there is a delay on the satellite. There is no simple answer. Perhaps I will see things improve enough in my lifetime so everyone can get help when needed.

I am amazed there is still no 000 for SMS as often SMS signal will get through.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Warin » Sun 03 Apr, 2022 11:26 am

Xplora wrote:I am amazed there is still no 000 for SMS as often SMS signal will get through.


+1!

There are stories of throwing the phone in the air to make a connection for SMS to get through ... might want a tarp to catch the phone on return.

An SMS to a mate who then rings 000 ??? Would need a lot of checking to avoid false call outs. Might be an idea to send driver licence and medicare numbers with the SMS.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby wildwanderer » Sun 03 Apr, 2022 12:41 pm

Warin wrote:
Xplora wrote:I am amazed there is still no 000 for SMS as often SMS signal will get through.


+1!

There are stories of throwing the phone in the air to make a connection for SMS to get through ... might want a tarp to catch the phone on return.

An SMS to a mate who then rings 000 ??? Would need a lot of checking to avoid false call outs. Might be an idea to send driver licence and medicare numbers with the SMS.


You might be able to still do this using the national relay service. https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/media ... ay-service
SMS info- https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/depar ... y-services
Its designed for deaf people but in an emergency id hope they wouldnt mind if you used it.

However I heard a rumour that the sms relay service had been discontinued.. though its still on the government website so im not sure.. :? :?:
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Xplora » Sun 03 Apr, 2022 1:32 pm

wildwanderer wrote:
Warin wrote:
Xplora wrote:I am amazed there is still no 000 for SMS as often SMS signal will get through.


+1!

There are stories of throwing the phone in the air to make a connection for SMS to get through ... might want a tarp to catch the phone on return.

An SMS to a mate who then rings 000 ??? Would need a lot of checking to avoid false call outs. Might be an idea to send driver licence and medicare numbers with the SMS.


You might be able to still do this using the national relay service. https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/media ... ay-service
SMS info- https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/depar ... y-services
Its designed for deaf people but in an emergency id hope they wouldnt mind if you used it.

However I heard a rumour that the sms relay service had been discontinued.. though its still on the government website so im not sure.. :? :?:


There has been discussion on this in a previous thread but you have to register for the NRS before you can use it.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby wildwanderer » Sun 03 Apr, 2022 4:58 pm

Calling emergency services is exempt from registration according to this https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/depar ... gistration

Though I wouldn't recommend relying on SMS relay for emergencies. A plb or inreach or walking companion is much better.
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