Handheld devices that communicate location or messages via satellite.

Credit: Outdoor GearLab

Personal Locating Beacons (PLBs) and satellite messengers are small, handheld devices that use satellite communications to relay emergency SOS messages, location information, and in some cases, text messages. SPOT and DeLorme InReach are two examples of Satellite Messengers in the U.S. Because many backcountry locations lack adequate cell phone coverage, satellite communications are often the only way to communicate with outside resources during an emergency. Modern smartphones are now developing the technology to call for rescue via satellite in emergencies. Many avalanche-related injuries require organized rescue and timely medical assistance; thus communication with outside resources is often critical. These devices have an SOS/location signal that gets relayed to nearby search and rescue agencies when deployed. Some devices have the ability to track locations and send and receive text messages to rescuers or other contacts.

Because cellular service is often limited in the backcountry, satellite messengers are a valuable tool for communicating with organized rescue. Credit: Outdoor GearLab

Most satellite messengers have an “SOS” button that will prompt a response from local emergency services and/or search and rescue. Make sure you’re familiar with where your partners keep their devices and how to operate them. Credit: DC Rainmaker

Some of the most recent cell phones have the ability to text or call emergency services using satellites. With this technology, you don’t need to have cell phone service to initiate an emergency response. Credit: Apple