Spot Gen 3 locator


I REVIEWED THE FIRST-GENERATION SPOT locator in 2013 and have carried it on my Camelbak ever since. The SPOT locator uses satellites to send messages and does not require cellphone service. Simply log on to the SPOT website to configure three different messages and who will receive them. When you are off the grid, hit the appropriate button and your predetermined recipients get both an email and text with your message and a link to a map showing exactly where you sent it from. After years of sending my wife messages of, “be home late,” I’d never needed to hit the SOS button. Then, while remote camping in Colorado, a motorcyclist rode up and said his wife had crashed nearby and he wanted to use my truck to take her to the hospital.

IT APPEARED THAT SHE HAD FRACTURED HER PELVIS and an MCN article mentioned a large artery in that area, identifying it as a potentially lethal injury. Opting to seek professional assistance and having no cellular service, I pushed the SOS button on the SPOT locator, left it with the couple, and drove (rapidly) 20 minutes into the nearest town. I called 911 and asked them to dispatch the ambulance to the SPOT SOS signal location, but they had not received the SPOT message, so the ambulance followed me back. Her injuries were serious enough to send her to Denver by helicopter. Good thing we hadn’t loaded her into the truck.

I CALLED SPOT to find out why the 911 dispatcher didn’t get the SOS message. The SOS and GPS coordinates were received by a human SPOT operator within minutes after the button was pressed. Based on the coordinates, the operator called the Saguache County Sheriff, located about 60 miles south of the accident. My 911 call came from Sailda, which was only 10 miles north, but in Chaffee County. The info wasn’t transferred immediately, because they are separate entities. The Saguache County Sherriff did call the Chaffee County ambulance, but by that time the call had already been made. The SPOT had done its job, though not as efficiently as expected. Given the circumstances, I would readily use the SOS button again.