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Boon docking - Emergency Medical Response...

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OK... You're boon docking in a remote area on BLM/Public land and you experience a critical medical emergency requiring local EMS response.  A call to EMS on your commo device (either via local cell net, Starlink, PEPWave, SATPhone, HAM radio, or whatever) will require a hasty report with specific location information as accurately and efficient as possible.  You may not have an accurate street address or may not know your grid/GPS coordinates.

Even if grid/GPS coordinates are known, this data is a lengthy alphanumeric string of up to 17 characters which could easily be jumbled up or miscommunicated in the heat of the emergency, sending responders to the wrong location.  

Using the first 6 lines in a military-style "9-Line MEDEVAC" report is a good start to communicate for your EMS request.  

Line 1 of the 9-Line MEDEVAC format contains the most important data in the report - your location, expressed using either grid or GPS coordinates or a simple street address.  Clearly, this critically important data should be quickly and accurately conveyed to the response team in a life-saving scenario.  The problem is making this happen accurately from a remote location.

An available free application has solved the problem - it's called, "what3words".

While attending an amateur radio campout last week, "QuartzFest 2024", one of the EMS presentations introduced this application and how it can be used to more effectively vector-in a response team.  At https://what3words.com/products/what3words-app you can learn what this app can do to accurately describe your location to an EMS team using only 3 random words.

The developers of "what3words" have mapped the planet into discrete 3-meter grids, each of these grids is assigned 3 random words that never change.  For example, sitting here in my living room, my "what3word" address is:  "seamlessly.gossips.bottle".  Should an emergency response be needed here, we could contact response personnel and pass along these 3 words to describe the location of the emergency.  Provided the local EMS has access to the free app, many do, they'll be able to navigate their way to my living room.

Responders across the country are using this app, as are companies like Amazon, Uber, and food delivery services, to bring their resources to a precise location without grid/GPS coordinates or inaccurate street addresses.  The "what3words" address is compatible with many navigation apps and can be shared via text.

Turns out, last year during the QuartzFest, an attendee experienced cardiac arrest.  One of the HAMs contacted Quartzsite EMS, quickly communicated the specific "what3words" address of the patient's location and EMS deployed to that grid square using the app's navigation feature.

We've got our family members up to speed on the "what3words" capabilities and would like to get the "word" out to the OTT RV community to consider using as part of their boon docking regimen.

Stay safe out there!



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  • 2022 TUNDRA w/Airlift Load Lifter 5000 kit/2017 LE II; Hull #226 "Casablanca", 12VDC Starlink kit, 3x Battle Borns; Victron Cerbo GX, SmartShunt, MPPT Solar Controller, & DC-DC Charger; HAM call-sign:  W0ABX
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8 minutes ago, MAX Burner said:

"what3words" address

Another "arrow" to place in the quiver!

While I use a Garmin Inreach mini that automatically transmits my GPS coordinates in the event of an emergency, I can see situations where the "what3words" system would/might come in handy.

This is another good place to remind everyone about a presentation that was made a couple of years ago at the Oliver Owner's Rally.  This presentation covered the type of information that each of us should have available in the event of an emergency.  A copy of the information that would be helpful plus some other ideas can be found IN THIS THREAD.

And, for those of us that keep this information with us - now is a good time of year to take a look at it to make sure that the data contained in it is still up to date.


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I have been using what3words for a while now, and it is really high resolution, down to a 3 meter area.  I have a Motorola Defy, which uses a satellite, but I'm not sure how quick the response would be vs. having cell service and using 911.  But would highly recommend what3words.

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