Do I need an emergency comm. device? SPOT? PLB? Nothing?

Submitted: Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 23:33
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We're planning a three month roadtrip from Adelaide -> Sydney -> Townsville -> Tennants Creek -> Alice/Uluru -> Coober Pedy -> Adelaide in a car plus camper trailer. We have three young kids, and wondered if we needed some means of getting help in an emergency. We will have a Telstra Next-G phone with us, and we've checked the coverage maps for that. We don't intend to stray far off the highway when we're in the more remote areas - just enough to find a campsite really. We'll be travelling starting now, hitting the remote areas in late May / early June.

How often is traffic likely to be passing us if we needed assistance and were out of mobile coverage?

Would it be wise to have a SPOT or similar device, or are they really for people who are going truly into the outback/bush, not us highway-goers?

We get the impression that assistance doesn't come that quickly with a SPOT or PLB anyway, so is it really worth it?

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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 23:53

Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 23:53
On the route you describe your phone will be frequently out of range, however there will be plenty of other travellers.
I don't know about SPOT but a PLB should get prompt response, however aid may still not be for some time. So in an urgent emergency such as snakebite it may not be timely. So you need to assess the potential risk and the response you desire.

For the fastest emergency communication either (or both) HF radio (Flying Doctor) or a satellite phone are necessary but expensive.UHF radio is only short range (20k) and even then is likely to only contact other motorists or a station property at best. Most people travelling where you describe would not carry such communication.

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Reply By: Member - Michael P (QLD) - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 00:10

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 00:10
My personal opinion is that anyone who ventures off the beaten track, EG goes for a hike in a National Park should carry a PLB.
It is a one off cost of about $400 then a programmed battery replacement at about 5 years. IMO great value for anyone who likes to get out of town.

Regards Mike.
AnswerID: 506444

Reply By: Member - Howard P (WA) - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 00:11

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 00:11

Personally for the trip you are planning I would not worry too much about emergency comms as you are travelling on major HWY's and there will be plenty of other traffic around. The only thing I use is a UHF radio for overtaking road trains etc. and with 3 young kids on board a good first aid course before you leave wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Enjoy your trip - sounds great.

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Follow Up By: anglepole - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 09:30

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 09:30
Yes I agree with Howard. If fellow travellers see you with kids they will stop and help.
Be sure to get an 80 channel unit.

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Reply By: Member Bushy 04(VIC) - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 09:21

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 09:21
WPB I would have a UHF radio as you will be near main roads.
We used ours quite a lot on our trip and had no trouble in contacting others for help.
ie: When you stop to fix a van tyre and your wife jumps in with friends and goes 40klm ahead to a camp sight with the car keys.
We also found that most vans called when they saw that we had a flat just to see if we needed help, helps to keep you sane.

AnswerID: 506461

Follow Up By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 11:35

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 11:35
Jeez, that bloody Murphy is everywhere. I thought the Captain was supposed to be the last to leave the
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 10:08

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 10:08
I think all the above electronic devices that have already been named are good ideas particularly a Sat Phone and particularly with young kids as you can get emergency assistance so that you can have someone talk you through a medical emergency immediately it happens. On the subject of medical emergencies, a first aid course would be a very good idea if you do not already have some training in that area.

AnswerID: 506467

Reply By: AlbyNSW - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 11:11

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 11:11
Carrying a Satphone gives you great peace of mind, particularly with children and the unexpected surprises that can happen.
In the scheme of things they are not very expensive, particularly if you are going to be doing more camping etc. If you can approach a mate who also does similar treks and suggest going halves in purchasing one to amortize the cost.

Works for me.
AnswerID: 506472

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 12:09

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 12:09
You can hire sat phones - might be the msot cost effective way to go.
As others have said, do first aid course and carry a good first aid kit as a first line of insurance.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 13:20

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 13:20
Val I suggested purchase as they are going for 3 months. The hire cost will go a long way towards purchase particularly if hey have further use for it later but yes hire is another option.
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Reply By: olcoolone - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 11:49

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 11:49
Have to agree with Alby, a satellite phone would be of benefit.

I someone takes ill and you a day away from medical help a satellite phone comes in handy as you can phone the RFDS and speak to one of their duty doctors and seek advice.

If one of the kids fell over and had a suspected injury that could result in a hospital stay you can ask the duty doctor......the other thing is if you had to make a couple hundred K dash to a regional town for help you can phone before to see if they have the facilities and personnel.

But it's not just medical stuff that a satellite phone comes in handy for...... car breakdowns and having the ability for other family members to be able to contact you in case of an emergency back home.

Don't rely on your mobile phone, UHF radio or other travelers for help.

You can always purchase a satellite phone for the trip and sell it when you get back.

PLB's are good but only for life threatening emergencies that you can deal with until professional help arrives.

Voice to voice communications is always reassuring in emergencies and can help a hysterical person think logically again.

A UHF is a must have and a satellite phone is close second.

The Australian outback is a very remote location and walking 20k on a 35 deg day for help can be the difference between life and death.

It's cheap insurance.
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 11:55

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 11:55
One other thing
"Would it be wise to have a SPOT or similar device, or are they really for people who are going truly into the outback/bush, not us highway-goers?"

The true outback/bush is anywhere out side the CBD..... here in Adelaide; like most capital cities I can take you 1hr from the CBD to some very isolated places where no mobile phone will work and hardly nobody goes..... and to trek out on foot would be a good 10hrs for help..... that's if you knew the direction.

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 13:52

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 13:52

There are many people in Sydney or Melbourne who would have it that Adelaide IS "the true outback/bush". LOL

But apart from that, I wholeheartedly agree with what you said in your 'Reply' post. The satellite phone is the easiest-to-use and most reliable form of communication in remote areas. PLB's may bring the cavalry but it does take time and does not provide advice in the meantime. Also it may be the local police, not the needed medic. The satphone also can be conveniently carried when hiking away from the vehicle........ try that with HF radio!

Sure, a satphone costs a few bob but what price do you place on your families safety? Even then its price is a minute portion of the vehicle cost....... most spend more on the fridge!


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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 16:32

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 16:32
Yeah 4x4ers are a funny breed..... some have no problems spending 2-3 grand on a set of tyres, a few grand on an upgraded intercooler and a couple of grand on driving lights....... BUT on the other hand they will spend as little on a winch, communications and other safety related items as the can....... it doesn't make sense, fun and looks or safety!

We are set up with all the gear as we like being self reliant and as for safety we have UHF, HF, Sat phone, PLB and a Spot..... the Spot is used for family and friends to follow our travels.

What price do you put on a loved one's life?

The way I look at it is I want to make sure number 1 is safe (me) hence why we have done remote safety and first aid training and we have the gear.

But then again most think it will never happen to them and someone with the gear will always come along and help them.

We have to carry Satellite phones, PLB's and UHF radio's, remote first aid kit and recovery gear for work so it's just the norm to us.

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Reply By: The Bantam - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 12:01

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 12:01
Are we talking about REAL help or "peace of mind".

With the advent of the mobile phone, people have become very comfortable and dependent on instant communications...I know people who are uncomfortable and insecure just traveling to the shops without a mobile phone.

Firstly, if you are talking a "road trip" and you will be mostly on major roads.....thousands of people have and still do travel those roads with little more than a mobile phone and UHF radio......its not that long ago that people had no such thing as a mobile phone....and only the minority carried CB radio.

Personal locator beacons.....the real ones.... that run on the international search and rescue system (this system will always be there and manned 24/7/365 by search and rescue professionals) they are a very good thing, they work worldwide over the entire surface of the earth, with maybe a couple of dead spots on the polar caps.
They are the real thing and a proper piece of gear, once triggered official search and rescue authorities WILL respond.
It is definitely worth the extra money to get the version that transmits GPS co-ordinates.....they can then locate you very quickly within meters on land or at sea.

BUT PLBs are for life threatening or significant personal harm situations.
There are no ongoing fees.

In my view the persoanal trackers, like SPOT, are "peace of mind", devices, there is no connection with official search and rescue authoriies and there are no mandated performance standards......many view them as only a little better than toys.

There is no substitute for being properly prepared and letting people know where you are going and when you expect to be there.

As for major injuries, snake bite, broken legs and heart attack.........realy the incidence of these things are very can reduce the risk to near zero by taking simple precautions and conducting your self in an appropriate way.

AnswerID: 506476

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 13:51

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 13:51
Hi Bantam – Spot's not a toy
Before I brought a Spot about 3 years ago I talked to the Australian Rescue Service in Canberra.
They informed me they do respond to an emergency call from Spot’s control centre.
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 14:58

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 14:58
Compare to the legally mandated performance requirements of a proper EPERB, any of these personal trackers are a very poor second.

The authorities may respond to these personal tracker devices, but they do not communicate with them directly.

Eperbs are monitored directly by government run or contracted search and rescue centres, in the country of coverage not some private run call centre, who knows where.

for actual reilability of detection, satelite overfly frequency and ability to track and locate the beacon, the personal trackers are not even in the race.

The minimum requirements for eperb, detection times may seem a little long..but remember that is over the entire face of the earth, in areas like Australia and its surrounding waters the satelite fly over times and therefore detection times are far better than specified.

ALL EPERBS transmit continuoulsy once triggereed and will do so for the specified time...the larger units this may be days
They continue to transmit a distress signal that iincludes individual unit ID that will be referenced to the registered owner... they also continue to transmitt a tracking signal on the search and rescue frequency common to the VHF marine and VHF airband.

If you have selected a GPS integrated unit it continues to transmit your updated position...accurate to meters.

OH for it to be an acredited EPERB system device it must be proven to work when continuoulsy immersed in water.

If durability, time, certainty of decetion and ability to locate the beacon and there for you matter......a proper EPERB bassed PLB IS the real thing.

The others simply can not be relied on to the same extent.

The personal trackers are most definitely viewed as little more than toys in the search and rescue community.

They certainly do not fit the legal requirements for carrage on water craft.

Sorry But I call em how I see em.

FollowupID: 783430

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 15:27

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 15:27
I’ll take the Australian Rescue Service's advice on whether Spot is a toy or not.
In my conversation with them they reported rescuing a Kayaker half way to Tasmania.
Spot will send out its emergency message and GPS cordinates every 5 minutes until its battery goes flat – about 7 Days.
I use it as a backup device and I would make the first call on my Sat phone.
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 18:32

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 18:32
If a kayaker or any other seagoing craft travels beoynd 2 nautical miles from land they are required by law to carry an functioning and compliant EPERB.

That kayacker was being both wreckless stupid and breaking the law.

The spot provides no homing signal, and the whole system it work off is far lower grade than the international EPERB system.

Because it does not transmit continoulusly and on bands acessable to search and rescue craft is makes it a very very poor locator.

This bloke in the kayak was very very lucky to be found.

speak to people actually involved in search and rescue and they will tell you ya chances are far better with an international standard EPERB running on the world standard search and rescue system.

Why would you bother with one of these half baked things when you can buy the proper international standard device for around $400 AND there are no ongoing fees.

FollowupID: 783461

Follow Up By: Ozbod - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 18:54

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 18:54
Not "EPERB", it is EPIRB actually. Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon. As you know so much about them I thought you would know that.
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Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 18:56

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 18:56
Bantam if I was going out sea I would have an EPIRB and a Spot.
For 4WDing a Spot suits my purposes and I test this device continually by sending location to my own and my family’s computers.
It never fails and they enjoy following my travels when I am out of telecommunications range.
I have an option of sending a number of different messages 1. a non-help message, 2. a help message to the family to send the Police to my last location or 3. an emergency call to the Spot control centre - all with accurate GPS locations.
They are a very handy toy.
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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 21:38

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 21:38

I am with you.

A bit of history is, I think, worth noting.

If my memory serves me well enough, my understanding is that the older style EPIRBs, operating on 121.5/243 MHz, relied heavily on overflying aircraft for detection. Hence the response time could be quite long. The triangulation method for positioning was also not very accurate (+/- 20kms = 400 sq kms)) and they therefore were also fitted with a homing beacon. They were developed and used almost exclusively in the marine environment and hence were designed to float using the sea as a ground plane. A sustained homing signal was necessary because of drift due to currents and/or wind.

With the recent change to 406MHz with satellite location, more accurate positioning is possible in the first instance (from memory ~ +/- 4 kms = 16 sq kms) and the 121.5 MHz homing beacon was still retained for final location and carrying out the rescue. With the incorporation of a GPS, accuracy was greatly enhanced.

Now on land, drift is NOT a problem. A device such as a SPOT, sending an emergency alert incorporating coords from the inbuilt GPS, is sufficient for SAR in Canberra to accurately determine your position (+/- 20m) in a short time frame - ~ 15+ mins. Those on your contact list will receive a sms or email within 5 mins and can contact SAR to give information such as vehicle typre, age/gender of people involved, etc. Contrary to some opinions, there is an official protocol in place between SPOT HQ and SAR. In the unlikely event of you moving, a follow up activation will give them an up to date location. Because every SPOT has a unique identifier, SAR will know it is the same device and make the necesary adjustment to the search parameters.

One more comment. At sea, the first action in an emergency is usually a MAYDAY call, particularly if there are other ships in the vicinity. Under international law, nearby ships are obliged to respond and help from them is highly likely to be quicker that anything organised from shore. IMHO, the same goes for a land based emergency. A MAYDAY call on your UHF radio, including the regulary used frequencies such as 40, 11, etc, plus the repeater frequencies, especially 5, could well elicit timely help. That is not to say that activating a device such as an EPIRB or SPOT as well should be delayed if the situation warrants it.

In the end it is a personal decision re what to take with you: I hope the above points helps to clarify the situation.

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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 21:52

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 21:52
All of this is fine and good but in relation to the opening posts situation do you not think that a sat phone would be a much more useful tool for them?
There are plenty of situations that communication is needed that does not warrant deploying an emergency device.
Ringing ahead looking for spare parts, arranging a doctor / dentist etc appointment or other non life threatening situations etc etc
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Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 22:23

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 22:23
Being a belt and braces person, I have both.
But for those who want a cheap option the Spot serves you well.
FollowupID: 783500

Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Monday, Mar 11, 2013 at 09:01

Monday, Mar 11, 2013 at 09:01
Hullo AlbyNSW

There are a number of other factors to take into account

1 For the OP, what would constitute an emergency? Mechanical breakdown, sickness, non-life threatening injury, low fuel or water - for example, due to leakage, or only some life threatening situation.
000 only applies in the case of the last situation.

A sat phone is one option. However, like a mobile, it is not broadcast. That is, only the person you are ringing can hear you. There could well be someone only a few kilometres away (there often is) who could be of immediate help but they have no way of knowing about your situation. That is why I consider a UHF as an important first option.

Secondly, if it is not a 000 situation, who do you ring? This is an important question if you want a timely response. The police are not a roadside assist organisation. Therefore on a long trip are you going to carry with you at all times all the possible phones numbers that may be required? Or are you going to ring home and ask them to ring around to organise help for you? If ringing home, or a relative/friend, it is quite a responsibility (and time consuming task) to help you. One of the first issues for them will be trying to establish credibility with whomever they ring that they actually are not making a hoax call. (One of the reasons I use VKS 737 but that is another matter) And BTW, this issue is pertinent for SPOT users as well.

As to making routine calls for appointments, etc, a mobile with a Telstra 3G card will usually do. There are telcos like Southern who use Telstra as their network provider, so you don't have to have anything to do with Telstra itself ;-)

FollowupID: 783522

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Monday, Mar 11, 2013 at 09:17

Monday, Mar 11, 2013 at 09:17
Hi Andrew
Your item 1 list is exactly the reason the sat phone is of most use
I carry UHF, Epirb and sat phone and I have been involved in two debilitating situations that were not life threatening but required assistance
In both situations the sat phone was the only option apart from sitting it out waiting for a passer by or until it became life threatening and activating epirb
I consider a UHF as a given minimum accessory and assumed they already had one
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Monday, Mar 11, 2013 at 20:52

Monday, Mar 11, 2013 at 20:52
The issue of urgent non life threatening communication, or very important non urgent communication is not helped one bit, by either a proper, EPERB system bassed PLB or any of the down spec personal trackers.
Because they are single way communication with very little information conveyable.

A sat phone or HF radio will give two way communication "full text" two way communication, where the situation can be discribed, verbal help given and a wide variety of matters discussed.

Again back to the EPERB based PLB V the down spec personal trackers.
Even on land the speed, accuracy, continuous transmission and the transmission of a tracking signal can make finding some one in dense scrub very very much faster and easier.

The thaught that being a moving target being unlikely on land is also a falacy....remember a lot of people who travel do also undertake other activities, like walking, climbing, boating, rafting and all sorts of stuff.

Very often a party or individual in need of rescue will move to put themselves in a rescuable position or due to other causes they may have to move.
For example being caught in a bushfire, flood, landslide, avalance, storm damage siruation where moving ahead of the situation, to a place of safety and to a rescuable position may be your only hope.

AS for calling "MAYDAY" on UHF CB......Oh good luck chum......UHF CB has a very limited range...near line of sight ( and that means exactly what it says) open country you may get 12 to 15Km, If you have a high position may be 30Km.....indense hilly country it may be as little as 500meters....UHF CB can not be relied upon.
Appart from the fact that there is no official monitoring of UHF CB, no mandatory requirement to keep a radio watch, no mandatory protocols and even if there was UHF CB is a zoo.
In places where UHF CB is used it may be of help...but remote...foorrget it.

Besides, in a marine situation where there is clear and present danger, we are taught to pop the EPERB..... FIRST and call MAYDAY second.
That is how you stay alive
The EPERB is a guaranteed thing no radio is.
On water with modern EPERBSs particularly GPS, by the time you get your first MAYDAY exchanges with a marine rescue base or a nearby ship, the search and rescue authorities will know who they are looking for and where within meters
Those search and rescue authorites will have access to all available communications bands, have much better transmitter sites and the ability to communicate many different people with and manage a rescue.

For a mayday call to be much use, you need to know where you are.....and that is not as simple as it sounds...often that is the very reason you are in also need to have time, battery power and ya radio in good condition.......good luck with that in a rolloveror vehicle fire on land or a capsize or taking water on water.

ALL the means of communications have drawbacks AND the single most important thing is risk reduction by proper preparation and situation management.

In this day and age,

we all carry mobile phones.....if you are going bush don't waste ya time with anything less than TELSTRA 3G.

We should all have UHF CB in our 4wds.

there are only two other things I would bother with and that is a SAT phone.

And if I was doing any adventuring, hiking, climbing, rafting or such a proper PLB on the EPERB system.

HF radio may be great as a community thing, but it is expensive and requires "some skill and undrstanding" and is most definitely not a guaranteed contact any time any place.

The down spec personal my view are a very poor substitute for a proper PLB and just not worth the money at any price.
By the time you pay for ya spot tracker and the yearly fees....over the 5 years between battery changes, ya still ahead on a PLB...and that is on price alone.

FollowupID: 783606

Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 12:03

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 12:03
Gday ,
Anything that makes your trip safer has got to be worth considering, but I reckon there is a point where you've got to say I'll take the risk and go without it.
If someone in your family has an illness or is extremely accident prone, your vehicle is unreliable or you just dont feel comfortable outside the city limits it might be worth considering, but otherwise I personally wouldnt bother.......
Its a highway.......there will be traffic every where.

AnswerID: 506477

Follow Up By: Bill BD - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 15:55

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 15:55
Agreed - if you are staying on mainstream routes then at most an EPIRB. As has been said before, make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to be there. BUT, if it makes you feel good to get a sat phone then go for it.

FollowupID: 783447

Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 19:15

Sunday, Mar 10, 2013 at 19:15
EPIRB's, yep activate one and a rescue will be on the way.
Unfortunately they may need to bring a body bag as well.
A remote area first aid course and a human voice on a Sat Phone may negate the possibility of needing a body bag or even a rescue.
But then you may not need any of these devices, just like you may not need a fire extinguisher, an extra spare tyre or a repair kit, hell why not save some weight and leave the spare at home after all you may not need it, someone is bound to come along sooner or later.
Hey John King got home OK without all this BS.

FollowupID: 783468

Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Monday, Mar 11, 2013 at 11:45

Monday, Mar 11, 2013 at 11:45
Gday Pop,
I asume your fitted out with 4 point racing harness, roll cage, fire suit, neckbrace, helmet, gloves and all the other "BS" as well?
In the event of an accident all this gear could be the difference between life and death, so obviously necessary pieces of equipment too.

Im not sure about your comparrison of a first aid kit, fire extiguisher and EPIRBS???? Two of them are for "you " to use to help yourself and the other is there to scream for help?

What sets off an EPIRB anyway?

FollowupID: 783534

Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 16:58

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 16:58
Hi Hairy,

Well apparently an EPIRB can be either manual (flick a switch) or automatic (immersion in water, impact, removal from mount) and maybe a couple of other methods that I am not familiar with.

I would have thought "screaming for help" would have fallen into the "you to use to help yourself" category.

Not sure if a piece of rope tied around my waist and the other end around the handbrake qualifies as a 4 point harness when used in conjunction with the standard 3 point seat belt. Yuh see my idea was that if I get tossed out the window the rope would pull the park brake on. Cunning huh.

Roll cage?? Isn't that what cab racks on utes are for??

Fire suit...hmmm I am sure my thongs would do to beat out the flames if my tee shirt and Stubbies catch alight.

Neckbrace?? What if tie that piece of rope around me neck as well as me waist?? Would that do?

Helmet?? Yep well the guy at the showground that sold me the base ball cap assured me it would protect me from something.

Gloves?? Nah, sorry mate I save them for when me and the missus go to the opera. Beside, have you got any idea what a good pair of gardening gloves cost these days!!!!!

Safe travels mate

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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 20:03

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 20:03

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Reply By: Crackles - Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 00:18

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 00:18
As can be seen from a couple of the somewhat paranoid responses above, if you believe the world may come to an end the moment you leave the outskirts of the city then get a Spot, an EPIRB, a Sat phone & a HF radio then have them all fitted to your Volvo ;-)
However the route you are looking at is not remote in the scale of things & was succesfully negotiated for years before these devices became popular or were even invented. So all joking aside it basically comes down to the level of risk you are prepared to take based on your experience & how prepared you are as in reality they are very rarely "needed".
Cheers Craig.............
AnswerID: 506608

Follow Up By: mikehzz - Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 08:31

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 08:31
The world might not not come to an end, but all the satelites could get taken out by an alien that case the HF radio will be the only device usable. You could discuss your predicament with an Eskimo if conditions were right provided he also had his Volvo kayak weighed down with every personal safety device ever invented. :-)
To the OP, a sat phone is all you would want and there is very little risk of you actually needing it on the main highways. It's handy if home wants to contact you as well. Pricey though.
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Reply By: jo b1 - Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 14:45

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 14:45
With that trip nothing would be fine. If you still feel the need for something go for a satphone due to having young kids on board. This will serve you best if a medical situation happens and you can seek advice/help instantly through 000/112.
Spot's are nothing more than a fun gadget, epirbs are excellent but know one has a clue what you're issue is until help arrives, which could be many hours.
If you do decide on a satphone shop wisely as you need the 000 access, pointless having one without this. From reading many posts on this forum Iridium are the best and Isatphone are the cheapest with no 000 access. I suppose you get what you pay for.
AnswerID: 506645

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 22:49

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 at 22:49
I have an Isatphone.
I have programmed all of the RFDS bases and 24 hour Police contact number for every capital city in Australia and personally rang them to confirm – It doesn’t take a university degree to do this.
They have excellent reception, email and GPS functions.
Google an Isatphone versus Iridium comparison for an accurate view of their strengths.
FollowupID: 783723

Reply By: WPB - Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 21:24

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 21:24
Guys, thanks for all your replies - it's much appreciated, and certainly taught me a huge amount that I didn't previously know.

After quite a bit of deliberation, we've decided we'll hire a satphone from Townsville and post it back after Coober Pedy. It'll just give us a bit more peace of mind in case anything unforeseen should happen.

Now I've got another question, which I'll start a new thread about!
AnswerID: 506734

Follow Up By: jo b1 - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 12:22

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 12:22
That's a sensible decision. As mentioned above make sure you ask for and hire a phone that has the 000/112 emergency free call. Stay away from prepaid and those with out emergency access. Something the hire companies would be well aware off, you hope.
FollowupID: 783855

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 17:02

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 17:02
What a load of crap. I have not seen such a load of paranoia on the forums before. The roads you are travelling are fairly well trafficked. During daylight periods there will be someone passing every few minutes. Out there people stop to assist if you hail them. All the off road camping spots you can get to with your camper and car will have company at night times. The only problem with assistance will be trying to get away from it.

All the times I have been out there I have not felt out of touch in the areas you will be travelling. Even with satellite phone you will not get a paramedic out to your location in periods of up to a couple of hours. In most medical emergencies, if you last more than half an hour you will probably last for a good few more hours before assistance arrives. If things are really critical you probably won't last the first half an hour anyway.

Mechanical problems are not critical. You should make sure you have a day or two of sustenance and three days supply of water before setting out between towns out there anyway.
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