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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gear Junkie: SPOT a real life saver

Stephen Regenold

SPOT devices came to market in 2007. Today, the satellite-connected units are an integral part of the outdoors landscape, used by hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts and initiating nearly two rescues a day, according to the company.

A milestone was reached this fall when SPOT recorded the 4,000th rescue initiated by one of its devices. Michael Herrera crashed a motorcycle off-roading in remote DeKalb County, Alabama. A retired firefighter, Herrera leaned on experience as a first responder to assess the scenario. He was stranded, injured and alone. There was no cell signal for a phone.

Herrera had broken his collarbone and three ribs in a crash, and a lung had partially collapsed. Disoriented and in pain, Herrera reached for his SPOT and pressed the SOS button. Within 40 minutes, an ATV and ambulance were onsite to help. He was transported to a hospital, and he is now recovering at home.

The brand put out a press release on Herrera and the 4,000th rescue. I felt obligated to write on the event because I have relied on SPOT units all around the globe on mountain climbs, whitewater trips, and adventure races.

Though I have never called for a rescue, the devices have served me as a tool for GPS tracking and a way to communicate an “I’m OK” signal to family back home.

The SOS option is an insurance plan. It connects anyone injured or lost with operators at the International Emergency Response Coordination Center, an organization initiated in 2007 to create a central response clearinghouse.

Herrera’s call for help went through the center, and his rescue is because of a system that’s affordable and easy to use. Look into SPOT, a personal locator beacon, or a satellite phone if you regularly head into the wilds. It just might save your life some day.