scouts-l Mail Archive for August of 2000: Re: walkie talkie
Bob Myers (rmyers@FOCUSMGT.COM
Mon Aug 28 2000 - 13:02:14 CDT
Rich Lock wrote:
"I think they (the FRS radios) are dangerous for use on the road since you
have to stay fairly close to the other vehicle(s) and end up "convoying"
and/or speeding to stay in range."
You're right. As a personal witness to two serious accident near-misses at
the back end of a troop convoy with a former troop, I can see how the radio
could make the dangers of convoying even worse rather than better National,
by policy, has banned convoys (XII. Transportation of the Guide to Safe
Scouting) and requires "OUR PLEDGE OF PERFORMANCE" on each Local Tour Permit
Application that "we will establish rendezvous points at the start of each
day and not attempt to have drivers closely follow the group vehicle in from
Jack Ferguson wrote:
"Not great, but enough that a quick change of direction was much easier on
the other vehicles as they had enough time to brake and see what was
This demonstrates exactly why National has rightly banned the practice of
convoying. I don't think these small radios will be of great assistance
when determining if we "had enough time to brake." Personally, I am
strongly in favor of National BSA's policy on convoying.
During our two day, 17 hour drive to the BWCA/Quetico area this summer, our
official float plan included a communications plan. We used:
1. Cell phones while traveling along the highway. Some of our Scouts and
most of the adults own one, so we had 1 or 2 available per vehicle. All
numbers were listed in the float plan and one (mine) was listed on the
permission slip for parents. Signal strength is usually very good these
days, but where it isn't, we used the backup plan (see item 3.) We would
set general rendezvous points 3-5 hours apart and call the other vehicles
when we were getting close to make final arrangements for lunch, etc. Stops
for gas and all other reasons were done strictly on an individual vehicle
basis. Everyone meeting for lunch was not mandatory either, but it worked
out that way.
2. Satellite phones in the BWCA/Quetico Park. We rented two of these from
an outfit in Florida - one for each crew. They were very lightweight
Qualcomm phones on the new Globalstar system. The two-week rental fee was
$200 plus tax and shipping plus $2.00 per minute airtime plus $1500 deposit
(their purchase price). The phone comes is a waterproof Pelican dive box,
but I simply squeezed it in another waterproof dive box that I had for my
digital camera. The box was twice as heavy as either the phone or the
This added $40 per person to the total cost of the trip, but the peace
of mind, knowing that an air evacuation, should it be necessary, is only
minutes not hours or a day away. Sending a canoe to the nearest ranger to
get help also adds considerably to the risk by splitting the crew into
smaller groups. Also, I like the idea of talking to a doctor from the local
hospital when making decisions about how to treat an uncommon injury or
sickness or when deciding to cut the trip short to get someone out. None of
this was necessary this trip, but our 1996 trip was cut short by a trip to
the medical center for a deep finger cut and minor nerve damage that would
have required stitches but ended up with just a clean bandage because it
took a day and a half to get there and it was too late for stitches.
Each phone had a regular Florida telephone number that worked when the
phone was on. They also had the technical capability of receiving regular
digital and analog cell calls, but our rentals were only set up for
satellite traffic. To conserve batteries and to preserve the wilderness
experience, we only turned the phone on for 15 minutes at 7:00 pm each day.
3. Our communications plan informed everyone that if they could not get
through to us on the cell or satellite phones at the prescribed time, to
call a number with a voice mail service (my cell phone) and leave a message.
This was checked every evening or could have been checked at any time we
were expecting a call or, for example, a vehicle was late meeting us at a
We were very happy with our experience with this plan and will repeat it on
virtually any high adventure trips in the future.