Review: SPOT 3

Submitted: Friday, Aug 08, 2014 at 22:25
ThreadID: 109075 Views:1123 Replies:0 FollowUps:0
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My Shop Item Rating: My Rating 5/5

My husband and I have been using SPOT devices since 2008 and have owned all three generations (SPOT Personal Tracker, SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger and SPOT 3). Although we've mostly used them while motorcycling all over Australia we've also used them while travelling in the car.
We ALWAYS use our SPOT devices in 'Tracking' mode and before we head off on a trip we send our family and friends a link so they can follow us in (almost) real-time. While travelling we always send 'OK' messages at least three times each day: when we set off in the morning; when we stop for lunch; and when we stop for the day. In addition, we've configured the 'OK' messages to be sent as both email and SMS to our contact list.
The first time we used a SPOT device was in December 2008 for a 10 day trip to Tasmania - with mobile phone reception being poor in many parts of Tasmania at that time it was a great way for our family to know where we were each day (especially in the event they needed to contact us).
We also use the free SpotWalla service (www.spotwalla.com) to keep permanent records of our trip - these are the SPOT tracks of three of the motorcycle trips (more than 10,000kms on three Postie Bikes!) I have done since 2009:
2009 Postie Bike Challenge
2012 Postie Bike Challenge
2013 Postie Bike Challenge
We have also lent our SPOT devices to friends for them to use on their Australian and overseas trips - like us they've found them to be a great way to share trips and adventures (we have often returned from our more adventurous trips to find that friends and work colleagues followed our progress the whole time via the 'Tracking' mode updates).
The thing we like most about the SPOT is that in the event of an incident/accident, and because we ALWAYS enable 'Tracking' mode, we don't have to activate anything for someone to know exactly where we are. This is in contrast to devices like EIPRBs/PLBs/SatPhones that have to be manually activated - if we were unconscious, not able to operate the device due to injuries, and/or separated from the EIPRB/PLB/SatPhone device (and not able to reach it) we wouldn't be able to activate anything.
Apart from the 'Tracking' service the other service we've had with all our SPOT device subscriptions is GEOS Search and Rescue. Fortunately we have not had to use this service ourselves but a friend who also has a SPOT used it in April 2013 in outback Australia when his travelling companion had a serious motorcycle accident. Within 2 1/2 hours of pressing the '911' button his companion had been evacuated to a medical facility by helicopter - what was interesting is that other travellers who stopped to offer assistance were not able to get good phone reception on their satellite phones.
Finally, and up until a a couple of years ago, we did not routinely take our SPOT with us when travelling by car (if, for instance, we were just going for a day trip on sealed roads). However, the experience of our neighbour's adult children changed our thinking and we now always carry our SPOT (even if we don't always switch it on). Our neighbour's daughters were involved in a single-vehicle car accident near the NSW/Vic border in south-eastern NSW when they car they were passengers in left the road, went down an embankment, through a fence and rolled several times. One of them was seriously injured but they had no mobile phone reception and there were no farm houses nearby.
The less injured daughter had to climb back up to the road, walk along until she could flag down a passing car, get a lift to a farm house and then call an ambulance. As she was not familiar with the area (she had been visitng her brother's farm for the first time) she had a lot of difficulty trying to explaining to the emergency services call centre staff exactly where the accident had happened. This led to delays in getting an ambulance despatched as the area where the accident occurred was on the border of a region covered by both Victorian and NSW emergency services. In the end, it took 3 1/2 hours for an ambulance to reach her sister (fortunately she survived the accident and has mostly recovered from her injuries) even though the closest ambulance was only 50kms away. If they'd had a SPOT device they could have pressed the '911' button when the accident happened and the emergency services would have known EXACTLY where they were and help would have arrived much sooner.
SPOT devices are incredibly useful and can literally be a lifesaver - don't leave home without one!
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