Originally Posted by gbmaz
The issue in remote areas in the west is that the places where it would be really nice to have helicopter evac readily available they are least likely. Search and Rescue is generally run by counties (often the sheriff with volunteers) and the cost of a chopper is prohibitive. There are quite a few counties many times the size of Rhode Island with populations less than 10,000 and much of the land is federal. So, no tax base to fund services. Any helicopter is going to be state police or Nationl Guard and might be several hours flight away.
70-90 minute response is amazing in the desert. In lots of places a 911 call to your home might be 45 minutes or more.
I have no illusions that my SPOT or a sat phone would get me a 30 minute response. My hope is that it might turn a 24 hour wait into 6-12 hours. Or at the very least make it easier to find my body.
Rural EMS have plenty to do responding to the problems of locals. A call from a distant call center that their customer, let's call him "Beemer Bill" (Bob's cousin), sent a call for help for unspecified reasons is not a priority above a sick kid or car accident. There have been a number of cases of SPOT users crying wolf nd that does not help. Look for the story about the hikers in the Grand Canyon a few years ago.
The bottom line is that a call to the local sheriffs personal phone and him summoning a helicoptor to come get still might take 3-5 hours to get you help. That is the reality. Ride accordingly and bring skilled friends you trust.
Nothing is fool proof and you're right, everything is slowed to the speed of the weakest link, and that is often the resources on the ground. Having an on-star like system that automatically senses an accident and dispatches help is no good if help is one sheriff deputy and he's swamped on some other priority. If your emergency is related to some sort of widespread event (like severe weather) you'll be one of many seeking help. One of the hazards of riding giant dirt bikes in the middle of nowhere is that you're on your own to a certain extent. That is also one of the appeals for many here.
I personally know Beemer Bob and here is his thoughts on SPOT
. Forgive me if this is 205.
If you're too lazy to read this, it basically says it took a long time to get help due to the ground resources. Bob is still a believer in SPOT because they did exactly what they said they would do.
I carry a SPOT and I even have an PLB registered with the NOAA. But its also good to be self sufficient and avoid the need for help.
I was recently riding in the Big Bend area of Texas and was told by a local that the ambulance will NOT leave the pavement. I'm guessing the sheriff has some sort of trucks that could be used to transport an injured person to the pavement, but that means help is a very long time in coming. If your problem is severe, you're a long way from help.
So, the short answer is ride with a doctor and have provisions to handle your own emergency.