We’ve been fans of the Spot Satellite Messenger ever since we first heard about the GPS device that allows you to track the progress of backcountry expeditions remotely. GPS-enabled devices like the Spot and the personal locator beacon from ACR Electronics also allow the user to send exact location coordinates to emergency responders at the push of a button. Unfortunately, it seems some consumers are abusing devices like the Spot at the slightest hint of trouble or are putting themselves in danger because they figure they have an easy way out.

Take, for example, the group of hikers who summoned emergency responders 3 times in a single trip! In each instance, helicopter crews had to deliver water to the unprepared hikers who later admitted they wouldn’t have even considered attempting the hike without their GPS beacon. These devices have been dubbed “OnStar for Hikers” and “Yuppie 911” but it turns out cell phone calls to rescuers are just as common in extreme environments with decent cell coverage like Death Valley.

Some may be quick to blame device manufacturers but we think that’s not quite fair. For one thing, GPS beacons are very useful devices when used appropriately (kinda like toilet paper – just because kids might use it to vandalize the neighbors, it’s still a good product). Instead, we encourage search and rescue organizations to continue charging victims based on response costs in cases where the individuals should have been better prepared. Yuppies should have no problem with that 🙂

via The Function Blog.

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