Trackplot's first SOS alarm

25 March 2020

In October 2019 Trackplot encountered their first real SOS alarm since the company's conception in 2009.

The swift escalation proved how reliable and responsive the SOS procedure is, reassuring customers of the value of the system in a crisis.

SOS is integral to Trackplot's remote lone worker monitoring system, being one of the GPS device functions, and can be triggered in a life-threatening medical emergency. The GPS device works using satellites, it does not need mobile phone signal, so a lone worker is able to raise the alarm to rapidly locate their position even in remote regions.

The SOS event:

The SOS alarm was initiated by Trackplot customer McGowan Ltd, environmental engineering specialists, based in the Highlands of Scotland. The alert was raised by McGowan employees, who were working in a remote part of the company site, when they unfortunately discovered the body of a missing walker from the local area.

At 09.53 a McGowan employee pressed the SOS button on their GPS device and the escalation procedure began.

By 10.01 GEOS (Global Emergency Operating System) in Houston, USA received the SOS message by satellite into their secure call centre. The call centre established that the location of the SOS was in the UK and despatched an alert to ARCC (Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre) to start the emergency response. In tandem whilst this was happening the call centre also contacted the nominated Emergency Contacts at McGowan Ltd to verify if the SOS was real or a false alarm.

On confirmation that this was a true SOS further details were gathered to brief the emergency services as fully as possible of the situation. Approximately 15 minutes after the SOS alarm was raised a helicopter landed on-site supported by the police.


Conclusions in event aftermath:

The McGowan site had very limited mobile phone reception, indeed one of the employees had tried to sent a text message to the main office to request help, but it was not delivered until after the emergency services arrived.

Despite living in an age when the mobile phone dominates, the mobile network cannot be solely relied upon as a guaranteed method of communication in an emergency, especially in rural and remote locations.

The incident demonstrates the immediacy and rigour of the Trackplot system and proved the SOS escalation procedures work exceptionally well. It confirmed to McGowan employees they can rely and trust in the system knowing that help is on it's way.

Although the incident had a sad ending and nothing could be done this time to save a life it's reassuring to know the SOS escalation works effectively ensuring a response as quickly as possible.

Emma Thomas, Director at Trackplot Ltd, advised, “Our motto is “Safe, simple, secure” and we strive to keep lone workers safe. Responding quickly to an incident to prevent loss of life and to remove anxiety and stress from colleagues and family is our aim.”

Ross Smith, Director at McGowan Ltd, explained “McGowan Ltd work frequently in remote, rural locations and to safeguard our employees we use Trackplot. On the 10th Oct 2019 the SOS button was activated by an employee on a remote Peatland Restoration Site near Roy Bridge (Highland). Within 15 minutes an emergency services helicopter was on-site and recovered the body of a deceased walker. Through this experience our staff and management are reassured that, if needed, the Trackplot system alerts the emergency services who can respond extremely quickly and exactly where required.”