Garmin inReach and similar satellite emergency messengers have become commonplace among folks out experiencing the backcountry by climbing, bikepacking, backpacking, and other means. Little did we know, Garmin inReach satellite devices have triggered 10,000 SOS messages since their advent in 2011. Those SOS calls go to Garmin Response, a 24/7 staffed global emergency response coordination center. Garmin just released a bunch of fascinating data about where these calls are coming from, who placed them, and more. Find details in the graphs and maps below.
Since 2011, Garmin Response has coordinated SOS recoveries in more than 150 countries on all seven continents. Places frequented for mountain activities, such as the popular Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail, the Colorado Rockies, and the European Alps have a high propensity for SOS incidents, according to Garmin. However, big cities such as Los Angeles and Phoenix also reported SOS incidents.
What are folks doing when they trigger an SOS through their Garmin inReach? An overwhelming 39% of SOS calls come from people out hiking or backpacking. The next highest number of triggers (12%) comes from driving incidents, which goes to show that it’s not all occurring in the backcountry. Cycling represents a small fraction of the SOS calls, for what it’s worth.
At 30%, the top reason that inReach users hit the SOS button is for injuries. This includes broken bones, blunt force trauma, lacerations, and other trip-ending injuries. The second highest reason the SOS button is triggered, at 17%, is for medical issues. Garmin states that these include altitude sickness, heart problems, and gastrointestinal issues, among others.
Nearly one in five incidents were triggered by a third party, or good Samaritan, who purchased a device for their own peace of mind but were fortunately in the area and able to assist someone in need. All that said, Garmin also mentions that inReach incidents include a variety of instances, such as pet emergencies, unexpected natural disasters, and even reuniting a child with their parent.
For more complete data insights and imagery, check out the inReach 10,000th incident blog.
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