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I have an early February GC launch. Small 10 day (work limited) trip of 3 cats so going light. I'm considering renting a Sat phone for safety

We usually do a Marsh creek middle-main trip each year and even after running Dagger never felt the need for a phone but feeling different for this trip. Maybe because it's only 3 of us with 2 having younger kids

Any thoughts on who, how, and what to rent?

Thanks


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Buy a Delorme InReach. The cost will be similar to phone rental, it will be more reliable, and you get to keep it.
 

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ceiba adventures rents them for $12 a day plus however many minutes you use, guessing other grand canyon rental company's have them to. Would be preaty sweet to just own one for all your remote river trips though.

Hopefully you have a back up oarsman or 2? Would be bad if one of the rowers got hurt and could not row out.
Have a fun safe trip!
 

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Check out Roadpost, good rates on up to date Iridium phones. I have not had good luck in the Grand Canyon with Globalstar phones.

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I've used Skycall in SLC for two trips. Iridium phones were $10 / day. They mailed hem to you a couple of days before each trip. Russ (I think that was his name) wa a nice guy and flexible with a last minute change on one trip.
 

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I just happened to find Verizon's satellite phone rental program Verizon - Satellite Overview online before clicking over to the MB forums to see what my fellow boaters had to say on the subject. I haven't gotten far enough to see the rates, but one advantage to the Verizon program is that they ship you the phone and then you ship it back when you return, which means one less errand to run when you are prepping for a GC trip.
 

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I would be careful with getting the inreach or similar devices for a replacement to a sat phone.

The Grand Canyon dispatch center is set up to take emergency calls via text, but very few 911 centers elsewhere in the US have that capablility. We are likely 5-10 years away from seeing text enables 911 at most if the places people do raft trips. When things go sideways on you you do not want to be relaying information third hand to 911 via first guy you could get to answer your text.

I have seen a few PLB activations come in at work. All of them had issues with the 911 center being able to convert the coordinates properly to get them to mesh with the format their program uses. This summer I ran into this problem when we were trying to medevac a guy out if Hells Canyon. I gave the dispatcher GPS coordinates, river mile, three different landmarks (we were camped at Bernard), and told her I was between Hells Canyon Dam and White Bird, Id in Hells Canyon Recreation Area. The response I got back was "Hells Canyon is in Lewiston..." It went down hill from there. Without voice communication she would have thought we were somewhere else

Kyle
 

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I would be careful with getting the inreach or similar devices for a replacement to a sat phone.

The Grand Canyon dispatch center is set up to take emergency calls via text, but very few 911 centers elsewhere in the US have that capablility. We are likely 5-10 years away from seeing text enables 911 at most if the places people do raft trips. When things go sideways on you you do not want to be relaying information third hand to 911 via first guy you could get to answer your text.

I have seen a few PLB activations come in at work. All of them had issues with the 911 center being able to convert the coordinates properly to get them to mesh with the format their program uses. This summer I ran into this problem when we were trying to medevac a guy out if Hells Canyon. I gave the dispatcher GPS coordinates, river mile, three different landmarks (we were camped at Bernard), and told her I was between Hells Canyon Dam and White Bird, Id in Hells Canyon Recreation Area. The response I got back was "Hells Canyon is in Lewiston..." It went down hill from there. Without voice communication she would have thought we were somewhere else

Kyle
I've seen sat phones take up to an hour to work as you search for service. Service is often lost during the call and is unreliable in many deep river canyons. The InReach activates search and rescue. GEOS is very good at relaying coordinates and details to local law enforcement and SAR teams - it's what they specialize in. Personally I would rather get a text that says "Helicopter is on the way, prepare LZ at...." than have to wander up and down the beach saying "can you hear me now?" for an hour.

Every type of communication has its benefits and detriments. I use the InReach weekly to communicate with basecamp and home from work and have come to trust its reliability. I'm sure it could be used to communicate plenty of detail in most emergencies. Of course multiple devices is best for a big expedition or expedition with higher risk.
 

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Both devices are going to have places where they don't work.

Inreach doesn't alert Search and Rescue. They alert a third party who contacts the local dispatch center in the jurisdiction you are in. This is the weak link in the system. Dispatchers aren't trained in working with GPS coordinates. Most do not understand that GPS has several formats, that there are different datums, etc. They just dump whatever coordinates they are given into whatever format they are using and hope for the best without doing any conversions. This means that those coordinates that so accurately report your location might not be so accurate once your local dispatch center gets through with them. Take that down the line and that message that tells you the chopper is coming doesn't mean it is coming to your location.

The lack of familiarity with determining a incident's location via GPS and landmarks when you are away from the road system is so severe that after giving the dispatcher my GPS coordinates, explaining to her that they needed to convert them to whatever GPS format they use, and giving her several landmarks that are searchable on Google they stilll couldn't figure where we were. The real problem is that they thought they knew where we were, and they assumed that we were wrong because they had our GPS coordinates. It took two hours to convince them we were where we said we were, and then to explain to them where that was because they wouldn't listen before. Using a Inreach or Spot that incredibly frustrating but necessary conversation never would have happened. They would have assumed they knew where we were, and we would have assumed the chopper was coming.

This was in Idaho County which is responsible for the Idaho side of Hells Canyon, and a significant portion of the Salmon. Speaking to my dispatchers this in not a isolated problem. It is not part of their training in most areas because it is not mandated on a national level, and so it is up to the states to require it. I know of none that actually do.

Furthermore rescue situations are rarely as simple as a victim saying send help and the authorities sending in the cavalry to save the day. When things are not that simple having efficient direct communication with your dispatcher is important.

Voice also allows you to communicate directly with your dispatcher and be your own best advocate.

Kyle
 

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Kyle thanks for sharing your experience. I'll probably get a sat phone some day, especially if we get more remote than the Grand. The two way communication of the InReach certainly can help with confusion, but does take a bit more time.

I wonder if you can get away with an InReach in China and India where sat phones are illegal. I probably wouldn't risk it, but I'm curious..
 

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Plus one for Kyle's observations.

A few years back I suffered a horrendous accident at Horn Creek Rapid Grand Canyon. Way too complicated to list out here.

Our Trip leader had a iridium sat phone, picked it up and even in that narrow canyon GC Search and Rescue came on line. We were lucky to have a just retired St Louis Fire Department Paramedic on the trip.

Trip leader was told where to go (about a mile away down stream) to a pick up spot.

52 minutes from the sat phone call, the chopper landed. Ranger Paramedic discussed the situation with our retired Paramedic and together they worked out a plan to get me on the chopper. By that time I was unconscious. Woke up the next afternoon in Flagstaff Medical Center. Gordo told me my blood pressure was one of the lowest he had seen in his long career to survive. No doubt in my mind that the Sat phone and our luck that the narrow canyon chopper was refueled on the pad all worked to save my life.

Nothing against SPOT / DeLorme / any other rescue devices but I am a big fan of iridium sat phones, retired paramedics and the entire Grand Canyon Rescue professionals. Definitely all are world class at what they do.
 

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Okie. I've heard you mention this a few times. What happened? Internal chest or abdominal bleeding? Extremity arterial injury?
 

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To Randaddy and the OP: Just to qualify my reaponses if you are inside any of the big national parks like Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or Yosemite (basically the ones that have their own 24 hour 911 centers) I would not be concerned about the dispatcher being able to figure out where you are based on your coordinates. They see enough PLB deployments to know how to process the information properly. This is because they are unique in how many search and rescue calls they handle, and how they are trained. The issue with not getting the coordinates right is going to happen on the local level where your 911 center is set up to locate you based on addresses, road names, and mile markers.

I don't know the laws in China or India, but the Inreach is the PLB/communicator I would want in that part if the world because they are part if Iridium's network.

As far as sat phone carriers are concerned inside the lower 48 in the US I would go with Globalstar. Having been on trips down the Grand Canyon and other places where we had both Iridium and Globalstar phones I get better voice quality with Globalstar, and equal coverage. My office could get either and after testing both we ended up writing a grant for Globalstar phones. They have come a long way.

You can't go wrong with Iridium or Globalstar inside the continental US. The only one I would avoid is Inmarsat.

Kyle
 

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as Duct Tape asked for

I was on my third Grand Canyon trip, this time in a kayak. Had some leg cramp issues and elected to ride in my long time bud's 18 ft gear raft. Horn was very nasty that day somewhere around 8k. Big hole center, monster lateral from left to right smashing into a rock face. Rower had some 12 trips down the Canyon. Being the typical kayaker with a gopro on my helmet, I said “I will lay down on the bow so the waves will crash over me making a much better video” Bad decision.


The rower did not break the lateral. Force of the water just turned the raft down to the rock face at hi speed. It was a square hit on the rock face which is a good thing cause we did not flip. However the bow folded up and over smashing me into the front gear box and cross bar.


I ended up with a total fracture of left tibia, right femur was totally shattered about half way down (Doc installed a bar), multiple fractured ribs, crushed number 8 and 9 vertebrae (Doc installed a metal cage), lower right pelvic down around the right ring smashed and hairline fractures on both wings of the pelvic bone, compression wounds on my butt and worst of all lower GI area was black and blue and GI track did not work for some 5 days and big sigh of relief from the attending doctors when it started working. Spent a couple weeks plus totally doped to the max not moving anything in Flag, another few weeks down in Prescott physical therapy rehab specialty hospital, where they got me moving and into a wheel chair then with a RN nurse in attendance flew back to Tulsa. Several more weeks in a rehab hospital in Tulsa. Finally they said I might as well go home till all the bones healed. I had so many breaks it took a while for them to mend. Had home PT in the bed such as it was. By that time it was up in the air if my legs would work to walk. Went into serious rehab, spent a month in pool sessions and got legs moving. Went to their rehab gym with one awesome PT guy ex football player in college. Session after session this man would massage the big muscles in my legs till he was sweating big time and so was I. Finally he got the scar muscle tissue to start breaking down and we started working on me building up walking strength on various machines. Bottom line some months later I gimped out myself with help of a cane. My PT hero told me I was the first patient ever to come in there in a wheelchair with all the bad stuff I had and walk out even tho I had a cane. Bottom line I had the best on site river help, GC search and rescue, just awesome staff at Flag (Dr John Hall is the surgeon to ask for), first class rehab in Prescott rehab I had two lady PT experts there. One was in training for iron man Hawaii and was just awesome. First morning I met her she said david you are gonna get into this wheel chair and I am going to tour you around the halls. I said maam, Until now all I can move is my hands and it takes 5 people to roll me over to a gurney. I had this monster cast on my left leg, nothing on my right leg as the bar was in place there and I had 7 to 10 vertebrae in a metal cage dealie in my spine. So I said what do I do, my stomach muscles are shot and do not work. She said inch over to the side of the bed, drop that cast down and twist to your side using your elbow and rotate to set up. Took a long time but after much moaning and groaning I was up. Amazed. Then she had a smooth board. She demonstrated placing the board on the wheelchair and bed. Told me to use my arms and slide across the board into the wheel chair. She was not going to help me physically but never gave up on me verbally. Then she pushed me all over the place giving me intros to staff and other patients.


Took me the better part of the year to get back on the water. Got a IK Thrillseeker from West VA and a custom designed cutthroat mini cat from Jack at JPW. Took it real easy and still use the cane on slick steep banks but have done floats on the ARK, Smith, Pilar and Chama in the Thrillseeker another multi day in the mini cat on the Smith and last Labor Day holiday a multi day on Lodore in the mini cat. A bunch of canoe stuff. I just cannot do much twisting. Being a ACA WW kayak instructor I worked long and hard to groove the torso twist, not much of that going on now in the IK but I am one heck of a good arm paddler, something I never thought I would do.


So, any body who sez bad things about our medical system gets the bull shit flag thrown by me.


My river buds and GC Chopper got me to the rim, another chopper to Flag, Dr Hall took a pretty much lifeless body and put it back together, Nurses and Techs at Flag and Prescott healed my wounds, Two world class PT ladies in Prescott got me out of the bed and into a wheelchair, then a Ex USAF Para Rescue Jumper now a med evuac RN got me back to Tulsa where several just awesome PT experts gave me my life back. Please if you see some one in a wheel chair and their care giver, give them a hand shake and well done. I know each of you Buzzards are active outdoor types. Being in a wheel chair for months at a time is pure hell for a boater. Just as difficult for their care giver. Bottom line, stay out of a wheelchair as it is a step up from a hospital bed but still not much fun for us outdoor types.


As my wife said “ you may not be doing class 4 in your hardshell kayak but you are still on the river in IK's Rafts and Canoes, just different than before but still boating, do not complain”


Thanks to Gordo and a sat phone the trip leader Nancy, had, I was out of the canyon in a bit over the hour, in route to Flagstaff where on a late friday evening I just happened to draw the best spine and bone Doc in the four corners. He said he had put a lot of GC fall patients back together but never had a river smash up like I had. My trauma Doc here in tulsa said I looked like some of his State Trooper patients with way over one hundred mph car crashes but he had never seen a femur smashed like mine and all the other broken stuff who survived the trauma of the impact.


Bottom line, even tho I did a stupid thing, at the time I thought it was just fun. Learn from my experience. On the other hand getting back to being able to take care of my self and back boating got me working with some of the finest Medical People in the world. So hats off to all you Buzzards who are in the EMT, Doctor, Nurse, Hospital Techs and Physical Therapy business. I will throw in chopper pilots as well as the GC pilot landed with his chopper body on a sandbar facing a wall with his tail out over the river. Some how got off the sand a few feet and according to the photos my buds took spun around in the center of the river and was gone like a rocket. Too bad I was morphined up to the max as I bet the scenery was just as good as it gets on the flight up to the rim.


Duct, send me your email addy and I will send you some photos. Okie


PS: I have done my share plus of beer and whiskey, never did any kind of dope. They started injecting me with morphine on the beach and continued that in Flag. In Prescott and Tulsa they kept me on morphine based pills and I had all sorts of stickers on my spine and butt which my tulsa Doc said were worse than the morphine based pills. This shit went on for months and my Tulsa Doc said I needed to go to a Drug Treatment Doc for extended meds and medical help to get off the hard stuff. Being kind of a smart ass, I said Doc I am not a drug addict and will not go thru all that bull crap. (comments like that are signs of being an addict I think) Fine he said, no more Rx from me bud, you are on your own. Later that night I realized my smart mouth had overloaded my now skinny butt. More loss of sleep and sweating but I made it with the help of my wife giving support. I take a Tylenol now and then and a Flexiril when the muscles lock up which they do now and then. None of the hard stuff. But the experience coming off the hard stuff makes me realize any one who goes the Cold Turkey route is a pretty tough person and if you know some one doing that, please give them full support. I was lucky to have a Wife that cared more about me than anything else.
 

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okieboater

Wow.
So glad you are alive and able to boat still. You listed so many injury's that would have made me very concerned for a patient back when I did emergency first aid, and all at once. Thought i'd had my own share of recovery and pain till I read your story.
Deffiinately bringing a sat phone on the grand now!
Thank you for telling us the story, that is a huge safety meeting for all of us. My respect for the river just went up about 10 times, and not like I didn't respect it before.

Shows how much you can do if you never give up( and your support team doesn't either)

Thank you for sharing!
And glad your still with us Man!!!
 

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Thx for the story OB. It sounds like it's lucky you made it. And thanks for the comments on your medical care. I'm an MD and enjoy hearing that. Good luck with your continued recovery and future river trips.
 

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Wow, what a freaking story! I'm also glad you made it back from a horrific accident like that! That must have been one hell of a collision!


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It's kind of ironic, I have a Global Star sat phone that I haven't used for at least 10 years sitting in a pelican case in my garage. This was the time when they'd lost a couple of satellites and the coverage was very spotty at best. Before that, it worked great even though the service plans sucked. Only had to use it once for a rescue. Glad I had it. Out of the many trips since, we've only had a sat phone maybe a couple of times -- not mine on any trips for at least a decade or more.


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I have an iridium sat phone you can borrow. Just have to get a new SIM card for it and pay for shipping to you and back. A you break it, you buy it deal. I'm in Carbondale. PM me and I'll send you my number.
 
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