Utah search and rescue teams debunk viral Facebook post


SALT LAKE CITY – A new viral Facebook post worries search and rescue teams in Utah and across the country about the potentially deadly consequences.

The message reads as follows:

It’s genius! I saw this on a friend’s timeline and wanted to share… ..

If you get lost on a hike, get stuck with a broken down car, etc.

Replace your phone’s voicemail with a message indicating your approximate location, time, date, situation (loss, gasoline failure, broken down car, injured, etc.) and any special instructions such as you stay with the car, you are heading to a city etc … The best part of this is that even if your cell phone dies or stops working, voicemail is still working, so anyone who calls your phone is looking for you will hear the message and know where to find you or where to send help.

Experts say that right off the bat, your phone can’t update your outgoing voicemail when you have no signal, which means you’re wasting valuable battery life in an emergency.

“There are a lot of better options to do,” said Trevor Hatch of Davis County Search and Rescue.

First of all, if you have cell phone service, the first thing you should do is call 911 for help.

What is called “phase 2 technology” is an incredibly useful tool that the dispatcher can use to send a cell phone signal and locate where the call was made only a few feet away.

“The great thing about 9-1-1 calls is that our dispatch center receives a GPS ping a few feet from where you are,” said Brent Jensen.

If you don’t have service, no voicemail change will be made, leaving you stranded with a dead battery.

“So we notice in the rescue scenarios that when you go to cold and cold environments, we will notice that our cell phone batteries drop to 10 – 12%,” Jensen said.

Davis County Search and Rescue also warns that telling everyone your location could potentially send others to try and search for you. If other family members tried to jump into a rescue situation unprepared, they would also run the risk of getting into trouble themselves.

“If it’s grandpa or grandma now, all of a sudden they’re going to get their grandson.” Jensen says, “And that, from a search and rescue scenario, complicates their efforts.”

On Tuesday evening, Davis County crews encountered a young man who attempted to get his drone into Farmington Canyon.

Read – Young man rescued after losing drone in Farmington Canyon

With a very low battery, he was able to call 911 and the dispatcher was able to ring his location.

He was in such a remote place that the crews never would have thought to look for him and as Jensen put it bluntly “And if he had followed the suggestions that were on this post, we would not have been able to find him. , and he would probably be dead. “

It’s not just Davis County, however, Utah County Sheriff Sergeant Spencer Cannon said, “Many search and rescue organizations have made a valid point that if you’re trying to do it… you are using up battery life.

If you’re stranded somewhere with no cell phone signal for a last resort, Cannon said you can text 911 as well.

“Sometimes receiving text messages that a voice call can’t,” Cannon remarked.

But there is a downside to this, it does not send a position.

“With an SMS, our dispatch center doesn’t get a ping,” Jensen said, “so we don’t get where you are and that’s the key if you’re looking.”

So if you can get a message across, include things like your exact location, state, age, description, phone number.

Ultimately search and rescue teams agree, don’t try to change your voicemail if you’re in an emergency.

As for what to do on the way out, “brace yourself,” Jensen said. “It doesn’t take much to put a snack and a few extra layers of clothes in your backpack and take them with you and just make sure you have a charged cell phone.”

Hatch agrees, adding, “Before you go out, just let someone know where you are going, what your planned route is, and what time you expect to be back.”


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