Occupational Health & Safety Committee

Chair – MaryAnn MacKinnon
Member – Harpinder Sandhu

Recently there was an incident where an employee servicing in a remote area accidentally pressed the SOS/911 distress signal on their SPOT, GPS tracking device. Jennifer Lowry received a call from the International Emergency Response Coordination Team (IERCT) to see if BC Assessment wanted them to alert local Search & Rescue to attend to the individual as the 2 employees designated as the SPOT device’s emergency contacts were not available to advise them.
What was learned was:

  1. The emergency contact information associated with this particular SPOT device was not up-to-date and included Jennifer as a contact
  2. The SPOT tracking number IERCT referenced re the SOS/911 signal being activated was not the number the office used in their internal tracking system when SPOTs are checked out for use
  3. Valuable time was lost trying to:
    1. track which office owned the SPOT device
    2. discover which of the several employees out servicing signed the device out
    3. make contact with/confirm the employee was OK
  4. Search & Rescue was readying themselves for a rescue operation while Jennifer worked with the office to sort out this issue

We were very fortunate in this instance that the employee completed the required afternoon check-in shortly after this mishap, and was able to confirm with the office that they were OK and Search and Rescue was called off. Please make sure that if your office is using the spot devices in your office that those responsible can:

  • Ensure the serial number for the SPOT is added to the check-in/out information you keep in the office (located inside the device, behind the battery
  • Check the emergency contacts associated with the SPOT devices in your office/Region to ensure they are up-to-date and accurate. adding the direct phone # to your office in case the emergency contacts are not available
  • Remove Jennifer Lowry as an emergency contact if currently listed
  • Remind employees using SPOT devices to send an “I’m OK” notification or call the office to notify them of their status if the SOS/911 button is pressed in error – they should not wait till the next appointed check-in time

Attached is a link to the SPOT user/set-up guide for ease of reference in case it is needed, or visit the website www.findmespot.ca to update your SPOT team information – those in your office/Region that should receive SPOT messages for check-in as well as those designated as your office emergency contacts.

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