Is this the answer?

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Posted by Technology Overloaded on October 16, 2002 at 10:26:44:

In Reply to: Sprint PCS coverage anywhere? posted by Elaine on October 15, 2002 at 11:10:02:

Came across this article. The future is upon us and it is getting scary!

Personal locator device to debut July 1 in U.S.
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Hikers, mountain climbers, hunters and others who could find themselves lost or hurt will soon have a new way to call for help: a handheld device that signals the same satellite rescue system that has watched over pilots and boaters for two decades.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which runs the rescue system, plans to announce the new program today. The "personal locator beacons" will be available to the public starting July 1 and will cost $300 or more.

"We're going to see a lot of usage among those who spend a lot of time in the outdoors, who go into really remote places where cell phones just don't work," said Lt. Daniel Karlson, a NOAA spokesman.

Karlson said outdoor outfitters will sell or rent the beacons. People taking long car trips would be better off with cell phones, he said, but they also could carry beacons in case emergencies occur where phones don't work.

The beacon sends an electronic SOS to satellites, which relay the distress call through a NOAA control center in Suitland, Md., outside Washington. NOAA then contacts local rescuers.

Australia, Canada, Russia and several European countries already allow broad use of personal beacons.

Use of the beacons in the United States has been limited to planes and ships because the agencies involved weren't ready to coordinate a nationwide rescue system on land, Karlson said. The few exceptions included personal beacons used by Forest Service rangers and in the escape kits of NASA astronauts.

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission approved the use of personal beacons on land. The agency said the devices will make rescuers' jobs easier, saving lives, time and money.

A test program in Alaska, which has allowed the use of personal beacons since 1994, has resulted in hundreds of rescues.

"It takes the search out of search and rescue," said Randy Crosby, who directs rescue teams in Barrow, Alaska's northernmost city.

In its 20 years of operation, the satellite rescue system has helped save close to 14,000 people worldwide, including about 4,300 in the United States.

One was Mike Ryan, 46, a stunt driver from Los Angeles. In 1985, the small plane he was flying crashed, leaving him with crushed feet and ankles in a remote area of New Mexico.

The crash set off his plane's beacon, and rescue crews found him 17 hours later. He said it was just in time: "I had enough blood for maybe another hour."

The satellite rescue system was born in 1972 after a plane carrying two congressmen crashed in a remote part of Alaska. A massive, 39-day search found no trace of House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, D-La., or Rep. Nick Begich, D-Alaska.

Congress responded by requiring every U.S. aircraft to carry a transmitter that would broadcast a homing signal after a crash.

Ultimately, the United States, Canada, France and the Soviet Union created the satellite rescue system. The operation involves 32 countries with ground stations around the world.

There are no penalties for accidental false alarms, but people who deliberately misuse the devices can be fined $250,000, imprisoned for six years and made to pay rescue costs, Karlson said.

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