Via Satellite: How a Satellite-Equipped Motorola Device Enabled a Colorado Trail Rescue

A Colorado hiker in distress was recently rescued, in part due to satellite technology and the partnership of Skylo, Motorola, and Bullitt Group.

A Colorado hiker in distress was recently rescued, in part due to satellite technology and the partnership of Skylo, Motorola, and Bullitt Group.

A group of friends were recently hiking in Roosevelt National Forest in Colorado, when one hiker began showing signs of altitude sickness and having trouble breathing, too ill to go back down the mountain. One hiker in the group had a Motorola Defy Satellite Link device. After camping for the night and finding the friend was still sick in the morning, the hiker used the SOS button to connect with emergency services, via satellite.

A rescue team successfully reached the group and the hiker was airlifted to safety and received medical care.

“I was doing a bit more backcountry adventures where there was no phone service or any other way to get help. My wife suggested I purchase a satellite messenger just in case,” the hiker, Harold, said in a statement shared with Via Satellite. “Without the satellite messenger, one or two of us would have had to hike nine miles to get help.”

Skylo Chief Product Officer Tarun Gupta spoke to Via Satellite about the rescue. “People take cellular coverage for granted until you don’t have it,” Gupta said. “By chance, one of the people on the hike had the device. [With] altitude sickness, it could have been a really bad scenario. It’s hard hiking through rocky terrain back down a mountain. This really helped out.”

The Motorola Defy Satellite Link is a device that is used with any standard cell phone. It allows cell phones to send messages via satellite by connecting to the device via Bluetooth. It can also send SOS messages directly to Geostationary (GEO) satellites through the Bullitt Satellite service, which Skylo is the satellite partner for. The device has a standard MediaTek chip, which is compatible with Skylo’s 3GPP standards-based service that uses a network of third-party satellites.

The SOS feature connected the hikers with Bulllitt’s search and rescue partner FocusPoint, which coordinated the rescue. It was enabled by Skylo’s real-time communication feature to determine the hikers’ location.

Gupta said this is the first rescue for the Motorola Defy Satellite Link since the device went on the market earlier this year, but he says it has the potential to save many more lives.

As more options are coming on the market for emergency messaging and texting via satellite, Gupta hopes this type of life-saving connectivity for people in remote locations will soon be mainstream.

“It shows the value of being connected and the value of it being your choice to be connected. These guys went out hiking to have a great time and [see] tremendous views. You never know when something bad can happen. People don’t want to think about it, but these things happen. I don’t know what they would [have done] if they didn’t have this device,” Gupta says. “I think it’s important to have this electronic tether, to the extent you want it, to make sure that everything is okay.”

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