The VOC owns 3 SPOT Satellite GPS messengers.
The devices themselves were donated by the family of Jared Stanley. Although not a member of the VOC Jared was a member of the UBC Avalanche Research Group in the Atmospheric Science program, and likely would have joined the club had he been at UBC longer. Jared passed away in January 2005 while backcountry skiing at Mount Seymour, and the VOC holds an annual safety lecture in the fall in his memory.
The service has been generously donated by SPOT for 2011.
How to rent
- Any VOC member may borrow one of the SPOTs for free, after putting down a fully-refundable deposit in a similar fashion to other equipment - however large club trips get priority.
- If borrowing a SPOT for an "official club trip" the VOC will provide batteries and there is no deposit.
- If borrowing for a personal trip the VOC will not provide batteries and the deposit is $100.
When you borrow a device with the capability to launch Search and Rescue at the push of a button, you take on some responsibilities.
- READ THE MANUAL seriously, read it. That way you know how it works. A PDF version is available here.
- UPDATE THE MESSAGES so that you know what the messages you are sending actually are.
- UPDATE THE MESSAGE RECIPIENTS so that if you push the buttons the messages go where you want them.
- UPDATE THE CONTACT INFORMATION so that SAR knows who they are looking for.
- After the trip RETURN THE CONTACT INFORMATION TO THE DEFAULT PROFILE because who knows what sketchy VOCer is going to borrow it next weekend, and send SAR to come rescue you.
Failure to do these tasks will result in you not being able to borrow the SPOTs in the future.
How to log in, change messages, etc.
- Go to the SPOT login page.
- The username and password are written on the device.
- Go to the My SPOT devices tab.
- Select the device you have.
- Under "Contact Details"->"Profile in Use" use the "view/edit" link
- If it's your first time you should create a new profile, and you can reuse it later if you like.
Where does the tracking appear?
All devices map to here: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0qMhZvsI0s3hF0FQ6lFq3CHvQlhlAILpL
It is also possible to create your own page from the web interface, for example to show just one device.
The most important thing is that your messages are going to somebody who will actually get them and act responsibly and predictably. Messages mean nothing if there's no one to do something about it. Emergency contacts should know that they are your emergency contacts and what they should do when they receive your messages.
This is the way Veenstra runs his SPOT. Maybe you'll like it too:
- Since we have tracking, if you turn tracking on people can figure out that you're OK simply by viewing the website
- This means "OK message" is redundant - so I use this message: I'm OK. I will make it out on my own, but something unanticipated happened and I'll be late. Don't call RCMP.
- Since there is a 911 button the help button is also redundant. In reality there are no situations where I'd actually want to call a friend rather than competent SAR, so I use my "HELP message" to call for SAR, but to let them know that nobody is dying imminently (ie - don't fly in bad weather, etc.): Something bad happened, nobody is in life or death peril, but we can't make it out on our own. Call RCMP.
- The 911 button automatically goes to a call-centre in Texas, who will dispatch any and all SAR resources they might be able to get ahold of.
This is the variation Mel runs her SPOT. Feel free to mimic.
- I also have tracking on a webpage, so I leave the device on tracking mode (bootprint button should be blinking) when appropriate and it will send an update status every 10 minutes. Make sure it has sky access to pick up GPS signal and send a message out. People can see your progress on the page then, and you can download the waypoints when you're home.
- OK Button is used as a checkpoint marker so people will know that I made it to the destination I planned to originally. Message used is: Checking in that we made it here. Everything is OK, don't worry if I'm late. --From #SPOT
- Custom Message Button is used to let people know that we're experiencing delays but it's nothing to worry about. It could be something simple as experiencing a snowstorm and we can't make progress. Message usde is: Delayed at this location for a while. Everything is still OK, don't worry and DO NOT send help. --From #SPOT
- Help Button is also redundant for the situations I'll likely need help because between this and S.O.S., Search & Rescue teams will likely be involved; however I can let them know it's not life threatening and not critical condition. Message used is: Having problems. Not life threatening but call 911, send search & rescue if location is remote. --From #SPOT
- S.O.S. Button means something really bad happened. It goes to the call-centre in Texas. For additional information, I include that I'm in the VOC (if it's a VOC trip) and information for local SAR teams: Squamish SAR Phone: 604-815-5060 ; Whistler SAR Phone: 604-932-2328 ; Pemberton SAR Phone: 604-894-5173 ; BC SAR Association: http://www.bcsara.com
If you're wondering why it's signed --From #SPOT, it's because my SPOT account is linked to my Twitter account.