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SOS from handheld (inReach) device saves man


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SOS from handheld device saves man from freezing to death in Boundary Waters
His light down jacket "hanging in the tree ... was frozen solid," a DNR official said. 
By Paul Walsh Star Tribune
October 19, 2020 — 3:10pm
A handheld satellite communication device was all that kept a 34-year-old man from freezing to death while camping and canoeing alone deep in the northern Minnesota wilderness.

The adventurer sent out an electronic SOS from deep within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) on Saturday, and rescuers answered the call and brought the man and his gear out just in time amid temperatures in the teens, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the St. Louis County Rescue Squad.

“It was still snowing heavily when they initially found his campsite” at Nina Moose Lake, roughly 25 miles north of Ely, said DNR spokesman Joe Albert. “Most of the clothes the man had were wet. There was a light down jacket hanging in the tree that was frozen solid.”

The rescue squad said Chori Rummel, of Elkhart, Ind., was suffering from hypothermia when he sent an emergency message shortly before 5 p.m. from a Garmin inReach, which range in price from $150 to $450, depending on the model.

Rescue squad Capt. Rick Slaten said that Rummel is fortunate to be alive given the combination of the backwoods visitor being alone, the lake starting to ice over and him having lightweight clothing, tent and sleeping bag in wintry conditions.

Even if he were strong enough to make it out on his own, Slaten said, Rommel would have had to walk out with his canoe and gear, rather than make his escape on the water.

“The ice is now too thick for canoeing,” the captain said. “Our people had to break ice to get in there.”

A DNR conservation officer and three members of the all-volunteer rescue squad members broke through the thin layer of ice by canoe to the campsite shortly after 8 p.m., well after dark, but first needed to treat the man for hypothermia before returning him to civilization, Slaten said.

“Rescue personnel began warming him with heat pads and then got a fire going,” Albert said. “He sat near the fire, wrapped in a wool blanket, for about 90 minutes before rescuers brought him out of the wilderness.”

Slaten said the man was showing signs of hypothermia when the rescuers arrived on the first day of what Rummel intended to be a weeklong visit.

“He was a little bit slurred in speech on first contact,” the captain said. “When you have hypothermia, you start to lose fine motor skills. ... He was a little sluggish in performance before we got some heat in him.”

The Sheriff’s Office statement said it recommends “all who venture into the BWCA to prepare for all conditions, do not take any unnecessary risks, leave an itinerary of your travel plan, and travel with a GPS or SOS device if possible in case of emergencies.”

Paul Walsh is a general assignment reporter at the Star Tribune. He wants your news tips, especially in and near Minnesota.

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I started carrying a SPOT many years ago after I stepped in a badger hole in a CRP field while pheasant hunting when I was a couple miles from my truck without cellphone service.  I tweaked my knee but was able to walk out but it made me think of what would have happened if I had fractured a bone.  I gave up on the SPOT after hearing horror story’s about them not working and went with Garmin InReach four years ago. I carry it on my vest on every hunt.

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Ive toyed with getting one. Im young and healthy but this year will spend roughly 50 nights at a cabin that 5 miles from a shot at cell service and many more from reliable service. 
 

Much of my hunting is even farther away. 
 

My wife often asks what do I do in an emergency and I have always answered that people lived just fine without cell before the late 90s. Given options available now I suppose its foolish to dismiss it. 

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I always felt I could survive but as I get older and hear stories about others, even younger than I am, I got concerned that I might not make it. I figured I owed my wife better than that.  I piss away more money on a bottle of scotch than the annual subscription fee and while the devices aren’t cheap, what is your life worth?

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I  use the cheapest plan available that can be suspended/revived without penalty.  $15.71 per month.  During off season, I usually shut it down.  Garmin used to send out stories in a newsletter about incidents wherein the unit has been pivotal in a rescue.  Interesting stories about how folks get into jams.  I got serious about carrying one when two of my best hunting spots were out of cell phone coverage.

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Wow, the guy in the original posts made mistakes by the handful.   I guess it is time to look into one of those as I spend a lot of time in back country year round and with Covid will be doing more off resort skiing.

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I bought an inReach a few years ago when it was still a DeLorme product. Build quality was very poor (crummy buttons, cable fit loose), the activation took forever, I couldn't get it to pair with my phone, etc. Spent a lot of time on the phone with them. It was a mess. When I returned it a few days later DeLorme wouldn't refund the activation charge or the 1st month's service fee. Really left a bad taste in my mouth. 

 

I think they're an important piece of equipment, and I usually hunt alone. Anybody have feedback on the product now?

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7 hours ago, GLS said:

I  use the cheapest plan available that can be suspended/revived without penalty.  $15.71 per month.  During off season, I usually shut it down.  Garmin used to send out stories in a newsletter about incidents wherein the unit has been pivotal in a rescue.  Interesting stories about how folks get into jams.  I got serious about carrying one when two of my best hunting spots were out of cell phone coverage.

 

Can you explain the fees and what you do to suspend service.  I only need coverage for 3 months of the year.  

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I was more curious on the logistics on how the plan works.  Below is the wording from your link

 

Quote

 

All plans are billed monthly. Subscription plans listed above are for individual consumers only. U.S. plan prices do not include the following: federal Universal Service Fund fee and applicable state/local taxes. Non-U.S. plans include applicable VAT. Additional charges apply to text messages, send/track points and location requests exceeding selected plan limits. Top users may experience decreased message speeds. All annual plans are subject to a $19.95 activation fee. No charge applies to changing an annual plan.

 

Enrollment in Freedom plans is subject to a $24.95 annual fee. A Freedom plan's minimum term is 30 days. New 30-day minimum applies to changed Freedom plans. No charge applies to changing a Freedom plan. Service can be suspended 1 month at a time at no charge. User retains access to inReach data stored on the Garmin Explore™ portal while account is suspended. Selected plan auto-renews monthly unless user changes account selections in the Garmin Explore portal.

 

 

For the Freedom plan it appears to have a $20 activation fee plus a $25 annual fee.  So the cheapest monthly plan would cost $20+$25+$15 for the first month.  It appears you can suspend the following month to avoid the monthly fee plus the $20 activation fee.  The plan also says the account automatically rolls over.  Does that mean I have to login each month to suspend or can I pick what months I need service.  For example I want Nov, Dec and July.  It would appear to cost me $20+$25+$15+$15+$15 and the following year it would cost the same less the activation fee. 

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Only the annual plan has the activation fee.   First month in the Freedom plan is one monthly payment plus the annual fee of $25.  Unless you suspend the plan, you will automatically pay each month.  Once you suspend, you have to reactivate.  You don't have to keep suspending each month.  You have to take the action.   I also carry the rescue insurance for areas wherein first responders charge for the rescue.  It's my understanding that certain areas do charge for sending out the help.  Not so here, but I like the peace of mind of having it.  In your case, you would start in November and suspend after you make your December payment.  As long as suspend before the next payment is due, you aren't charged for the coming month.  There is no proration.  In the beginning of July, you would reactivate and then suspend before August is due.   Repeat as needed. Gil

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Like carrying bear spray....an inreach is one of those things you carry and hope you don't need. Mine stays on the side of my binocular chest harness  

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