Order Tray | Contact Us | Home | SIG Lists

[aprssig] Emergency Beacon

aa3jy at winlink.org aa3jy at winlink.org
Tue Dec 21 19:09:51 UTC 2004

This is what I did a number of years ago as noted on the ARRL News Letter:


When Scott Ratchford, KC5JGV, witnessed a bad accident during a snowstorm on Pennsylvania's I-76 recently, he immediately grabbed his cell phone and called 911. When that--and several other possible combinations--failed, he tried an emergency call on 2-meters. Again, no luck. Two people were trapped inside an overturned vehicle, and Ratchford was getting desperate. "Here I am in the middle of who knows where, a huge snowstorm, a serious accident, folks needing help, no one answering on .52!" he said in a March 8 posting about the incident on the APRS Special Interest Group. "So, I switch the MIC-E to 7, and hit the button." This sent an emergency mike-encoder signal out over the Automatic Position Reporting System.

Ratchford's emergency beacon was spotted by several stations who immediately contacted the Pennsylvania State Police. But the cops "don't do latitude and longitude," said Dan Velez, W4DJV, in Virginia, one of the stations monitoring the call. Clay Owen, AA3JY, in Pennsylvania, had better luck. He also called the state police and was able to give them references to exits and route numbers, thanks to APRS+ and the Delorme Street Atlas. "I also gave them the name of the individual to be contacted, thanks to QRZ built into this program," he reported.

APRS developer Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, was among those noting the emergency call in the Pennsylvania-Maryland-New Jersey area. Bruninga notes that APRS-DOS will display the nearest mile marker on interstates but "apparently I missed I-76 in the database."

Unknown to Ratchford, the message was received and understood. "Little did I know that the APRS message was received, as a trooper had arrived within minutes of my transmission," he said. Only when the trooper asked for him by name as he was about to leave did Ratchford learn that APRS had delivered the message and that someone had called the police. "I left the scene feeling very happy about our hobby and especially our interest in APRS," he said.

Clay AA3JY
(Via Winlink)

More information about the aprssig mailing list