[aprssig] APRS Emergency Activation

Wes Johnston, AI4PX wes at ai4px.com
Tue Mar 4 11:58:21 EST 2008

I know personally of a local ham who was travelling to NC, fell asleep and
ran off the road.  He woke up in the midst of a wreck and could not find his
cell phone in the car (hint - plug your cell into a cigarette lighter outlet
when driving).  He called on several voice repeaters for help, but since it
was late at night, no one was listening.  He then activated the emergency
beacon on his D700 and a ham in Charleston SC was able to contact him on the
Lumberton NC repeater, and to call the NC State Police. We learned that
night that the police are not equipped to accept lat/lon, they want mile
markers.  The driver was so stunned (and had been dozing for so long) that
he had no idea where he was.  APRS really shined that day (err night).

As far as using the mic-e emergency function, we have a tracker setup to
beacon in two modes for motocross races.  Mode 1 is a normal once a minute
beacon rate, mode 2 is emergency packet with a different SSID.  The sweep
rider wears the backpack and presses the mode switch when he sees somemthing
that we need to know about.  He then tells the folks at the next checkpoint
what the problem was and we dispatch someone to that location.  We use the
emergency function specifically because it centers the maps and makes other
d700's in the area beep like crazy.  I can be out on the race course in my
car riding around and know when there is a problem right away.  And yes, we
operate on a frequency other that 144.39 so we don't irritate the natives
too much.... we use 144.99 for local events.

The only other (mis)use of the mic-e beacon was back in 2002 I think.... an
aircraft over watertown NY sent a beacon which was heard all over the US....
even down in central SC on my d700.  That test was announced many days and
weeks ahead and come to think of it, I never got a QSL card from the guy!

On an aside regarding loosing your cell phone in a wreck.... My dad is also
a ham, but does not run aprs in his 18 wheeler.  He also ran off the road
late one night and rolled his truck over.  He went thru the passenger's
windshield on his back and slid ahead of the truck like a surfboard.  When
he came to rest, he was facing upwards on top of the windshield looking at
the truck that was still sliding on it's side towards him.... that was the
moment he started to do the "back stroke" (you have _got_ to visualize Wile
E Coyote doing this!)  and cut his hands in the panic.  His cell phone was
thrown clear of the truck and he could not find it in the grass and mud on
the side of the road.  I'm not sure they ever found it.  The curley-que cord
of a car charger will keep your cellphone in a place you can find!


On 3/4/08, Robert Bruninga <bruninga at usna.edu> wrote:
> >> 4) If anyone sends an emergency posit, the map
> >> screen is forced on all users and centered
> >> and zoomed into that stations symbol... displayed
> >> in bright red and SOS beeped in CW until the
> >> operator attended.
> > That's a good way to annoy users right out of APRS
> > altogether!  Pop-ups are bad enough, but if my
> > display jerked to a different center and zoom
> > based on a received packet instead of my input,
> > I would dump it in a flash.
> Probably the person with the emergency needing immediate
> assistance has a different opinion.  Operators that don't want
> to be bothered by other people's emergencies probably would see
> it as a nuisance.
> > The individual user has a job to do, and THEY
> > determine the scope of information that they
> > need to be displayed at any point in time.
> So they will only turn on the emergency alert function when they
> think someone they care about is about to have an emergency?
> > One tracker 'crying wolf' would disrupt the entire emcomm
> > activity until EVERY operator made their own determination,
> > and reset their display.
> Yep, Everyone in the net may have information that others do not
> have.  In an emergency presented to the APRS local network,
> everyone involved needs to take that ssecond or so to determine
> if they are in the position to offer assistance.
> > I say a resounding NO! to this proposal.  Let the
> > APRS operator determine what is on their display.
> I have only seen it happen ONCE in 15 years.  And it was an
> overturned vehicled down in a valley in Pennsylvania needing
> immediate assistance.  In 15 years, not that big of a deal
> (until you need it).  It's not a proposal.  That is the way most
> APRS clients have reacted to the emergency signal.
> Bob, WB4APR
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Today Hell froze over, forcing thousands upon thousands of
people to keep promises they never thought they'd have to.
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