When Having a Satellite Phone Made All The Difference

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Whether you’re working or playing in Alberta, or both, the ability to connect with those at head office or home base can range from ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘absolutely critical’.  Sure, you may be out in the middle of nowhere because you’re trying to get away from your phone. But, being able to call home – to check in or in the event of an emergency- should always be an option that’s available to you.

These are just a few times when having a satellite phone made a difference,

 

Adventure Seekers – Skiing Across Antarctica, Then Climbing a Mountain

Back in December of 2018, Calgary pilot and adventure-junkie, Laval St. Germain, was trying something ambitious to raise money for cancer research in Alberta: cross country skiing across Alaska, followed by a climb up Mount Vison (the tallest peak on the continent).  He even found the time – and energy – to climb a few more mountains down there once he finished with the first.

His satellite phone was his most reliable means of communicating with civilization.  He used it to call in updates on his travels (which his friends then posted to his Twitter account ), to coordinate his travels, and he was even able to use it to do an interview with a Calgary’s radio station’s morning show – Calgary Eyeopener.  If you’re curious to hear it (and you really should), just click below.

Laval’s definitely an extreme case, but if you’re planning a day-long, cross country ski trip outside of cell reception, renting a satellite phone for the day as a means of emergency communication will add a much-needed element of safety to your trip.  The same goes if you’re climbing a mountain…or several, as in Laval’s case.

Public Safety- Keeping Rural Roads Safe for Everyone

 

During the summer of 2019, Grande Prairie RCMP used its Mobile Check Stop Unit to help keep the roads safe.  Specifically, they wanted to make sure drivers, impaired by either alcohol or cannabis, were pulled off rural Albertan roads.

Normally, officers would have to drive suspected impaired drivers back into town for a full range of sobriety tests.  But the Mobile Check Stop Unit came fully equipped with breathalyzers for alcohol and cannabis along with a few other sobriety tests.

And where do satellite phones come in?  The vehicle was equipped with a satellite phone so those found to be impaired could call a lawyer and begin the process of taking care of the next steps.

This may seem small, but it isn’t.  Having this fully equipped vehicle, satellite phone and all, meant that officers didn’t have to spend a day driving back into Grande Prairie and then back out to site to watch for other intoxicated drivers.  It allowed the local RCMP to dedicate more resources to public safety, around the clock.  And the results were astounding.  On the first weekend, they pulled 10 impaired drivers off the road, all because they were able to work from the field.

Because the unit is mobile, it can be made available to other communities like Athabasca, Fort McMurray and even Edmonton, meaning the safety benefits this unit provides can be felt all over Alberta.

 

Search and Rescue – Getting Found After You Get Stuck or Lost

 

Search and Rescue teams in Alberta, and all across Canada, are always warning outdoor enthusiasts to be prepared when they hit the trails.  In addition to food, water, and clothing fit for the conditions, GPS devices, cell phones, and satellite phones are on the list of items to bring with you.

Unless you’re staying in an area with cellular coverage, a satellite phone is your best means of communicating in an emergency.  It might seem excessive, but there are plenty of times when it’s made all the difference:

1-     In August 2016, tragedy nearly struck a Calgary family as they drove their motorhome along the Crowsnest Pass. The father, Steven Hyde, lost control of the motorhome and it slid off the road.  Shortly after a kind stranger pulled his RV back on the road, he started feeling unwell and realized he was having a heart attack.

He stopped to rest, and a different group of Good Samaritans came by on ATVs a few minutes later.  While they rushed him out of the brush, one of the quadders called an ambulance on his satellite phone.  Paramedics reached out to STARS, and Hyde was airlifted to a hospital, where he was treated and allowed to recover.

2-     In April 2019, a pair of Polish tourists were climbing Whitehorn Mountain, near Mt. Robson. An unexpected snowfall trapped the pair on the mountain but, fortunately, they had a satellite phone with them.  They called the Polish Embassy in Ottawa who, in turn, were able to get in touch with Robson Valley Search and Rescue to relay the critical information.  While rescuers began the search, the satellite phone the pair had on them allowed them to stay in constant communication with the embassy, who relayed status information to the SAR team, leading to a successful recovery.

3-     In February 2018, a pair of snowmobilers were trapped in slush on the west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Because they had a satellite phone in their kit, they were able to call back into town and a rescue party was dispatched within five minutes.

If any of those stories sound like they could have happened to you or your team, having a satellite phone in your kit is a good idea.

 

Getting Started

 

Forestry, oil and gas, adventure tourism, search and rescue, and even transportation are just a few of the industries in Alberta when people can find themselves working alone or stranded and in need of assistance. And, unfortunately, there are still plenty of places in northern and central Alberta that conventional telecommunications infrastructure can’t reach.  If you’ve ever driven between Jasper and Lake Louise, you know what it’s like to be on an empty stretch of highway with no cell reception.  If you’re on a forestry road or mine site north of Fort McMurray, you may find the same thing.

A satellite phone can end up being your sole source of communication, and maybe even your lifeline when your working or playing in the middle of nowhere.  If you’d like to talk about getting set up with satellite communications, Contact Us, and we’ll get started.

 


Tridon is a full solution Telecom Systems Integrator with CSA certification and licensed by APEGA.  Our Engineering, Service and Tower Divisions collaborate with customers to build engineered solutions including communications systems design, tower inspections and co-location, wireless broadband, fiber optic cabling, site security, and two-way radio communication.

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