Satellite phones

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A satellite phone is the Rolls Royce of emergency communications.

It will work anywhere with a clear sky view, because, as the name suggests, it connects with communications satellites.  But, like a Rolls Royce motor car, a satellite phone (sat phone) is expensive to purchase and to operate and is bigger and heavier than the alternatives.

Advantages of a sat phone

  • Two-way voice or text conversations from any location, so the nature of an emergency or delay can be discussed with emergency services, the trip contact, family, roadside assistance or whomever.
  • It can be used to obtain information such as weather forecasts or fire warnings.
  • An inbuilt GPS provides a location, which can be sent via text (SMS) message.
  • Very useful on extended trips in remote areas.
  • Can be hired for extended trips rather than purchased, with a group sharing the cost.

Disadvantages of a sat phone

  • High purchase cost
  • High cost of sat phone plans and calls
  • Relatively heavy and bulky
  • More difficult to operate than a mobile phone
  • Battery needs to be kept charged

Using a sat phone effectively

  • Ensure all useful and emergency contacts are stored in the unit.
  • Ensure several group members can operate the phone.
  • Keep instructions with the phone.
  • Ensure any screen lock PINs or passwords are known by the group.
  • Have clear sky view when operating.
  • Use a double check system to ensure the phone is turned off after use.
  • Store in a secure waterproof pouch or container.
  • Keep the phone warm to maximise battery efficiency.
  • Carry a second battery for the phone, only to be used in an emergency.
  • Consider hiring for an extended trip. The group or club can share costs.

In an emergency dial 000

  • Ask for Police for an emergency that is in the bush or on a track away from a road. You will be asked for the location. That can be obtained from the sat phone’s inbuilt GPS. The police will coordinate the appropriate rescue response and resources.
  • Ask for Ambulance for a medical emergency where the patient is on a road that is accessible to an ambulance. You will be asked for the location; either a street address or the road name and the nearest intersection.

Note: This section intentionally avoids excessive technical detail.

See also