Search and rescue, anyone?


Small absurdities of travel planning…

If you are travelling solo in remote areas, you have a certain need (and your family & friends as well): having a big, red rescue button that you could press when things go very wrong (picture a broken leg somewhere off the road in high altitude wilderness.. there are more pleasant ways to die, I guess). Now, there are very powerful devices for exactly this, called PLBs (personal locator beacons), which are relayed to local search and rescue teams. Great technology, based on a network of military satellites, that has already saved more than 30,000 lives!

Now, this sounds like a device I should be getting, right? Well, it needs to be registered in your country of residence. And the German authorities decided that Germany has no wilderness nor very remote regions without cell phone coverage – so no registration is needed. Fantastic! What about citizens who travel abroad? I have spent quite some time calling ministeries, the German army, several shops concerned with rescue devices. The answer seems to be: Germans do not need to be rescued. I COULD register, if I had an airplane or boat (aka search and rescue for air traffic and sea). Bikes are not on the agenda. And I have no intentions of buying a boat for that (maybe a canoe??).

Now, I will have to search for a country that is kind enough to let a poor German cyclist register. Or maybe I can convince the German army… (option A is more likely, I guess… ;-)).

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