SPOT Saves

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Trekking at Altitude in India – SPOT to the Rescue

Dr. Simon Young has relied on SPOT Gen3 for several years, and his device is always on hand when he heads out on his own on Munro-bagging trips in Scotland. Adventuring solo is in the family genes; Simon first came across SPOT when his son used one during a solo bike trip from Bishkek to Ulaanbaatar. Its small size and weight, reliability and global coverage, made it a no-brainer.

Simon uses SPOT’s check-in feature to ensure peace of mind for his family when he explores the hills. But the device’s tracking and SOS functions are especially invaluable when, as head of outdoor education at a boarding school in England, he leads school trips including Duke of Edinburgh expeditions and trekking holidays.

In summer 2018, Simon took a school group trekking on the Markha Valley trail in India reaching heights over 5,000 metres. When they reached Markha village they came across a group of Czech mountaineers on their campsite who were struggling to help one of their group who was seriously ill despite being young, fit and well acclimatised to the altitude.

They tried putting the patient in a portable hyperbaric bag to reduce the impact of the high altitude. They also gave him oxygen. But it was clear he needed to be evacuated to receive specialist treatment.

Returning back to civilisation would have entailed an arduous journey of up to three days and there wouldn’t have been enough time for the sick climber to get the emergency help he needed. Communications also presented a challenge. There was no mobile phone coverage in the area. Furthermore, there is just a single satellite phone in all of Markha village that is only available when there is enough power.

To initiate a rescue urgently, Simon hit the SOS button on his SPOT Gen3. Knowing this would cause anguish at home and at the school, he also sent his pre-programmed “all is well and I am fine” messages.

Simon and his team secured the campsite for a helicopter landing then continued on their way.

When Simon and his group caught up with the Czechs later on in the trip, they learned that the IERCC initiated a recovery using an Indian Army chopper and, after two days in hospital, the young man had been able to travel back home and was recovering well.

“No doubt it was thanks to SPOT’s reliable and rapid communications that his life was saved,” said Simon.