In our previous post the video looked at how a PLB works, how it is constructed and how much level of redundancy is built in to them so even if for some reason a particular satellite system is out there are still three other methods that the transceiver is using to make sure that a reliable signal gets to the right people. This next video address the shortfalls of other devices for the purpose of sending a last resort emergency signal.
We all (especially in Australia) understand the shortcomings of relying on mobile phones for emergencies; you can never be guaranteed of coverage. But at Mountain Equipment we get asked a lot about what is better - A PLB or a GPS tracker. The truth is, is that they are two completely different products and although they do their own job well, they don't cross over well. The confusing part is that GPS trackers have a 'S.O.S' button and they ARE transceivers so why wouldn't they be just as good.
This video talks a lot about signal strength and redundancy but the other aspect is what happens to the all the data once it has reached the intended source. The S.O.S. signal from a GPS tracker will be forwarded on to the local emergency authorities in that area; usually Police. While being in Australia, the USA or Europe this can be quite reliable, if you are in a remote part of the world or even more common being a part of the world where the Police aren't as concerned with search and rescue, there could be lengthy delays or even dead-ends to that call for help.
When you (as an Australian resident) register your beacon with AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority), no matter where you are in the world, be it a remote part of the Pakistan Himalaya or in the Lane Cover National Park, the signal will go through AMSA. It is then up to them to coordinate a rescue with the emergency personnel in the area it has been activated. This means that no matter where you are, the local search and rescue people will have AMSA bugging them and wanting updates as to how the rescue is progressing, when is it finalised and outcomes etc. So even if you are thinking or purchasing a PLB to use primarily on overseas trips, always register it in your country of residence as that will be the country responsible for coordinating the rescue.