Sunday, January 15, 2012

Emergency Beacons

It does not take long monitoring http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/emergency.cgi
to determine who has an emergency and who does not.

When you Google FCC.gov and Emergency, you get this.

Once upon a time, MayDay and Pan were taught.  If you sent a MayDay signal falsely, it was bad.

Today, ... or false or deceptive messages, signals or identification is as close as we can get in Part 97 though the US Coast Guard and others still teach MayDay and mention the penalties for sending a false call.

For example:  San Diego man accused of false 'mayday' calls http://bit.ly/xmblQb

Must there be emergency beacons on APRS?  Why YES, when there's an emergency.

Most of the beacons observed do not report distress, however.  Many messages to the beacon senders result in no reply.  Where they REALLY in distress?  Were they testing?

If it's the latter, there are other frequencies upon which to test.

If it's the former, answering inquiries as to the nature of the emergency and the level of help needed would be an important addition to Automatic Packet Reporting System operators.

In the mean time, save your emergency beacons for emergencies.

K4IP added these comments:


Who monitors APRS for "emergency beacons"?  I never even heard of those.

If someone wants to have piece of mind that a call for help will be heard, they need to invest in a PLB.  Boaters rely on EPIRBS and aviators rely on ELTs.  When used on 406.00 Mhz, there is a long network of SARSAT satellites tied into the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (formerly Air Force Rescue Coordination Center).  When notification criteria are met, JRCC makes the call to either USCG or an inland SAR agency to begin their electronic search.  I've seen this process work in as little as 60 minutes.  Even on the 'old' SARSAT frequency of 121.5 Mhz, airliners and military aircraft still monitor it and report any signals to ATC who reports to JRCC via the FCC in turn.  While there are testing procedures, many times these systems are used incorrectly or devices malfunction and notification is made to search for the offending device.  As far as I know, there is no provision for criminal action to be taken in the event of accidental or incorrect use of an emergency locator transmitter.  But there could be/should be.

Bottom line.  Unless I knew for sure someone was listening on the other side, an APRS distress signal, while an option, would be far from my first plan to be rescued.

73,
Greg


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