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Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.

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Offline 19dsniper

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Ok guys and girls, the title is real. I spent a little time last week researching as much as i could about Jeff Davis County Texas and what frequencies i could find to plug into my radio for our upcoming Boy Scout trip in a few weeks. We are headed to BTSR in Jeff Davis county. I always plug in local police, fire, ems, ham repeaters, BBARC, etc into my radio before heading out for long scouting events incase of emergency. I have been told that where we will be located on the ranch that the closest phone is miles away and that there is no cell reception. Unfortunately 3 days ago, a young boy died exactly where we are headed in a few weeks. The terrain is rough, and its been hot. It will only be worse when we get there in a few weeks. He was dehydrated and lost consciousness. The adults with the group performed CPR on the young man for approximately an hour and a half before a border patrol helicopter arrived, but by then it was too late.

I bring all this up because i am hoping that someone out there can help me find more frequencies for this specific area. We are leaving for that same spot in a few short weeks, and know that without coms that it could literally mean life or death. If anyone has any frequencies for that area PLEASE share them with me. I was originally going to take my Yaesu because its dual band, but have decided instead to take both my EFJ 5100 because it will do P25 and my Yaesu. I have been licensed by the state of texas as a firefighter/paramedic/ Search and Rescue personnel since 2009, So please don't read me the riot act about how i shouldn't be using any police, fire, ems frequencies. No, i do not work for the county that we are heading into, but if anyone has a problem with me using these frequencies, they can bring it up with me and report me to the FCC if they would like after we get the needed help. It would only be used in a life of death emergency, so I'm still covered there even without the paper trail to back up my use, as the FCC allows communications on those restricted frequencies for the preservation of life. I only bring this up because i asked on a different forum and was read the riot act in public and in PM about how it would be "illegal" for me to use the frequencies even if i had them. Lets all be grown ups about it and understand that if it was your child that we were performing CPR on for an hour and a half, that you would say screw the rules and call for help any way you can!

Any frequencies that you know work will greatly help. If you think that it is a frequency that shouldn't be shared, please feel free to PM me. I am trying to find the Tx, Rx, and PL/NAC codes as well if possible so that we would be able to communicate in an emergency.
I have also looked into renting a Sat phone and the best i can come up with is a 3 day rental during that time frame. I looked into PLB SPOT as well and may still pick one up. I was informed though that if its needed, that the person with the SPOT account is responsible for all bills associated with the emergency response and not the patient. I have worked in search and rescue long enough to know that calling in a helicopter for a rescue can and often does go into the $$$$$$. I may still do this, but would definitely appreciate any frequency help i could get.

Also, does anyone know how well the McDonald Observatory/ Jeff davis BBARC repeater works in jeff davis count? Looking at their coverage map, it is showing that their coverage stops south east of BTSR by a few miles. If i could hit that repeater, and IF someone was listening that would be the best approach. Thats why I'm looking at the other frequencies. Dispatchers are available 24/7 and not just whenever they feel like jumping on the local repeater.

Sorry for the long thread, and thank you in advance for all your help.
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/northeast-tarrant/article155910879.html
http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/North-Texas-Boy-Scout-Dies-on-Backpacking-Trip-428551653.html
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« Last Edit: June 16, 2017, 05:05:47 PM by 19dsniper »

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Offline Flash

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Re: Jeff David County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2017, 05:48:58 PM »
I have been to BTSR twice for their week long summer camp. In what program will you be participating? If it is regular summer camp program, you and your Scouts will be at Base Camp which is nestled inside a canyon with a creek running down the middle, where there is plenty of water and available shade. It cools off at night being at 5000+ feet. Base Camp has landline phone service, might even have radio. Hundreds of youth and adults enjoy that camp every summer, so I am a bit jealous because that canyon is such a gorgeous place.

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Offline marufo

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2017, 06:46:23 PM »
Sorry dude, but this sounds awfully hinky to me - and your username doesn't help any. What exactly is your responsibility on this trip? Any particular reason you don't think the troop leaders and scout ranch staff have taken appropriate precautions? One mother on Facebook thinks they did.
Quote
Dawn Vanderwarren Dill reviewed Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch
5 star
Yesterday at 1:50am
Want to say Thank you to your staff and leadership during the tragic death of one of our scouts. You guys did everything you needed and more to make sure our Troop was taken care of. They have all made it home and are safe in their family's arms.
I found that other forum; the link is here: http://forums.radioreference.com/texas-radio-discussion-forum/354672-jeff-davis-county-frequencies-needed-due-death.html#post2778300
Quote
I had already decided early on that i was not going to contact the locals and see if they would share their frequencies, as i currently have no justifiable reason to officially request them. But, i may still contact them and see if i could send them my information and see if they would be willing to share based off of circumstances and certifications. I don't expect that to happen, but its possible. We will see.
My emphasis.

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Offline 19dsniper

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Re: Re: Jeff David County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2017, 07:39:16 PM »
We will be participating in the mountain man program and the 50 mile back country program. I understand that they have land lines in camp. We just got back from a meeting about the most recent incident and my current recommendation is that i leave a one of my radios and charger with one of our ASM's that will be at base camp. He is a fellow firefighter/SAR guy. He will have access to power while we are there and can recharge his radio or a spare battery if need be. The current plan is for him to carry a radio and have it on at all times. I will also carry a radio in the back country and we will set up a check in schedule for me to call in and check in. That way i can conserve battery power and not have to worry about leaving it on all the time. It would also allow us to turn on our radio at any time and reach him because his will be on the entire time. We are hoping that this will work in the back country that we are in. We are both familiar with line of site radios and how to extend the range if need be. I carry a roll up Slim Jim that i can run up a tree if i need to get more range in an emergency. Hoping that all of this is a bit extreme and overkill for this situation, but we would rather be prepared. 

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Offline 19dsniper

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2017, 07:55:56 PM »
As far as the screen name, I'm not sure what you mean that my user name doesn't help any. I can assure you that I'm not some nut  job or a troll. I am a retired soldier. Former 19D with B4 identifier. I have always kept the same screen name regardless of what forum i am on so i don't have to try and keep track of different log in information. It just keeps things easier, which is why i use the same screen name over on that forum and have for the last 3 years. Sorry if it sounds "Hinky" to you..

 I never once placed blame on anyone for the situation, nor did i say that the park hasn't taken any action either before or after this event, appropriate or not. So I'm not quite sure where you are coming from with this. As far as my position, I AM one of those troop leaders that you are referring to and that is why i am concerned and want to make sure that we are looking at every possible way to keep our boys safe while we are out there. Not to sound insensitive of this situation, but i do know that things unfortunately happen like this some times. I did not nor will i place blame on anyone for what happened. If you feel as if i did some how, please point it out so that i can clarify or correct it.  I know that the father himself has stated that he places no blame on BSA, The adults, or the staff and that he still believes in the BSA.

The reason i stated "i currently have no justifiable reason to officially request them" is because i could request them thru internal channels, but i don't think that would be professional because it will cross into my outside and not professional life. However if their frequencies are already common knowledge and listed on public records such as Repeater list, broadcastify, radio reference, etc. or if there are any local ham stations that operate in that area that i don't know about, then there is no reason that i shouldn't go ahead and include them.

 It is a camp that is located in a remote location with the closest Hospital being over an hour away. As such, its not as if we can just throw one of the boys in a vehicle and drive them down the street to the local hospital. When going to remote locations, things like this need to be considered. Im not railing on you in any way, just trying to provide answers to some of your questions.

You asked "Any particular reason you don't think the troop leaders and scout ranch staff have taken appropriate precautions?" Like i said, I AM one of those Troop Leaders and this is one of the ways we are looking at taking appropriate action. Which is why i also stated that we have looked into either a Sat phone or possibly a PLB. But as stated earlier, the person who's name is on the account is the one who gets charged for the response and that is directly from SPOT when i called and spoke with them this morning.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2017, 08:18:26 PM by 19dsniper »

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Offline Txlj

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2017, 08:48:46 PM »
Having worked in the area, I dont have the information you need but can say radio signal is spotty at best. Several agencies in the area use sat phones for dispatch and cell phone service is a joke. Also Jeff Davis does not have a hospital I know of, the closest is Alpine. EMS is mostly volunteered for and law enforcement can be limited at night. 

Sent from flat land


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Offline Quatro

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2017, 12:19:23 AM »
My only info on the death came from the DFW news story and I've never been to the camp.  But the article indicated the Boy Scouts were backpacking in 105 temperatures which sounds a little sketch.  With that little bit of info, I'm surprised the Boy Scouts haven't shut down the camp for a couple of weeks to conduct an eval of what changes might be needed. At a minimum, I'd sure hope that they would provide a Sat phone for your use to alleviate concerns given the apparent lack of radio communications. I can't imagine the parents of the scouts would want their kid to go without a Sat phone.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline 19dsniper

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2017, 01:18:45 AM »
Having worked in the area, I dont have the information you need but can say radio signal is spotty at best. Several agencies in the area use sat phones for dispatch and cell phone service is a joke. Also Jeff Davis does not have a hospital I know of, the closest is Alpine. EMS is mostly volunteered for and law enforcement can be limited at night. 

Sent from flat land

Excellent information! Thank you very much. I haven't been to this area before but have been out to BiBe and BBSP numerous times. At least out there i could reach people on the BBARC linked repeaters in about 85-90% of the park. Once out on river road i couldnt hit the repeater, but once we were on top of Old Ore Mine i was able to get a signal out to the linked repeaters. Cell phone in that area was very spotty at best and if we needed to get on our phone for anything, we finally figured out that we could get 1 bar if we went up to the trading post.
I had looked into Sat phones earlier in the day, and that was brought up by the SM tonight and quickly dismissed because of the cost. I may still go ahead and rent one if its available for the trip. According to the company i spoke with earlier, its a $500 fully refundable deposit, $75 for the first 3 days, and $15 for every day over that. 1 week max, so we will be over by 1 day, which causes it to go back to the $75 for 3 days. Its a crazy system that they have and extremely expensive. It would basically cost us $135 (if i can sweet talk them into not charging us the last day, but not likely) for a phone that we will likely never use. But what is the true cost of peace of mind? Looks like it might just be $135!

I am still giving serious consideration to picking up a SPOT Get 3 as they are running a special right now. 150 for the unit with 75 mail in rebate, and half off the annual plan. That would cost us basically the same amount as the sat phone rental but would be personally owned and good for 1 year before needing to be renewed. I can honestly say that in the event that it was needed, i would not hesitate to push that button if it meant it might help save a life. I just really hope that the parents of that young man would step up and cover the bills when they came in. I would imagine that this situation has happened before where one was used to help a stranger or someone not on the current plan. But, again according to SPOT directly, they bill the account holder for any and all responses. So i can say that there is a little hesitation there, but it still looks like our best bet so far. The best plan i could come up with was to leave a second radio with our other ASM who is also a FF/SAR guy and have him leave it on 24/7. He will be at base camp and will have access to power to keep it charged. The current plan is that we will call in maybe 1-2 times a day at predetermined times to let him know all is good. That way i can preserve battery power and not run it all the time. And yet because his is on constantly, if we have and emergency, i can always turn the radio on and call for help.

I know that the ranch had an active license for a frequency, but I'm not finding anything for a repeater, and it doesn't appear as if they are using the radios. They are licensed for a UHF frequency, at least as of a few years ago. (UPDATE: I just looked it up again and they haven't renewed it since 2003-03-18)

 Hopefully they will start using it again. I wish they had a repeater out there. Maybe they will decide to put one in now especially with the size of this ranch and the programs that they offer.

I won't keep everyone. Thanks again everyone for all your help.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2017, 01:36:44 AM by 19dsniper »

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2017, 10:17:45 AM »
Check out a company called Mobal for Sat phone rental.
I roamed and rambled, and I foller'ed my footsteps
   To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
   And all around me a voice was a'sounding
   This land was made for you and me

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Offline GaryF

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2017, 04:04:18 PM »
Unless you would also use the Spot for other things, it might be a poor choice. Consider a PLB.

First, the Spot is $150 to purchase, but it also requires a service plan with a 12 month commitment. The cheapest option for a year is going to be $200,  so we are at $350    (Edit: I read past the part where you were getting the unit and the plan at half off. You have obviously already looked closely at the plan costs)

Second, reviews indicate a fairly high message failure rate or delay rate.  When minutes matter this could be critical.

A PLB would cost a little more for the device, but it requires no service plan, and is probably the most reliable option, as well as the cheapest.

A Garmin InReach costs more than the Spot, but you can do the service a month at a time, and if you only use it a month or two a year, you will likely come out $$$ ahead of the Spot within 2-3 years. Another big plus for the InReach is that you can real time text with emergency services and explain the nature of your emergency.  With a PLB or with the Spot, all that the responders know is that somebody pressed the SOS button.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2017, 05:21:24 PM by GaryF »

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Offline Ranger Tim

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2017, 11:24:15 AM »
With all due respect, dragging a group of scouts into a remote West Texas ranch in the throws of a summer heat wave doesn't sound like the most responsible decision. I spoke with an LE ranger down here a few minutes ago and he suggested that all of those channels you are after are encrypted and he seemed pretty dubious that a scout leader would have access to the kind of technology needed to use it anyhow. I don't really know what to tell you beyond what has already been said,  but PLB's and sat phones are anything but reliable in the Big Bend (but still better than nothing).
"The greatest happiness possible to man ... is to become civilized, to know the pageant of the past, to love the beautiful,... and then, retaining animal instincts and appetites, to live in the wilderness"
- J. Frank Dobie

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Offline 19dsniper

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2017, 01:30:06 PM »
Well after numerous recommendations, i continued to dig deeper into many avenues of communication. I will share what i have learned in case anyone else is interested. With the Iridium phones, they are based on a slightly dated satellite technology and have good coverage in certain areas only. Most of the reported frustration comes from the fact that you will most likely have a 50/50 chance of having a signal "right now". The complaints are that as the satellite passes overhead and out of reach that your calls are dropped and that there is no way to know when the next satellite is within reach unless you watch your signal strength on your sat phone. Even then, its not a guarantee, but is reported to be within 6 minutes. Then, when on the phone, you have to keep an eye on it because you will likely loose it within a few minutes again and have to watch your signal strength again for the next satellite. I spoke with some guys that work out in the oil fields and asked them if they had experience with them. They told me they don't use them anymore. From their experience the reception was very spotty, and when they had an accident a number of years ago with one man loosing an arm and another loosing his life, they all tried getting out on their sat phones for help and no one could. According to them, that is when they all decided to ditch the sat phones. There are other companies out there however that seem to be better than others for coverage. With better receptions and faster access.

In looking into the PLB and SPOT type devices. They both definitely have their place IN ADDITION TO other means of communications. The reason i say this is because the PLB is either on or off. Your either calling in ALL the help, or none at all. The PLB is what i would consider the most basic and most reliable means of getting help, and i may still pick one up. The one caveat to it is that you cannot request what level of response is needed. Do you need a Helicopter? If so, its on its way! Do you only need an ambulance to meet you at the trail head and to transport someone to the local hospital? If so, the helicopter is still on its way! In that lies the problem. When using the PLB they send in the Cavalry! Thats great when you need it, but why waist assets, time, money, etc. when all you need is patient transport or BLS (basic life support) service instead of ALS (advanced life support) service. Like i said, there are so many positives to it though, I'm definitely getting one of these if only for our family trips! 5 year battery life, no need to recharge, has test features, waterproof, direct link to satellite and air units, continuous transmission, etc. all positive in my book.
I included the SPOT device in this as well. The difference is that the PLB is monitored by military, civilian aircraft, satellite, etc and will get STRAIGHT to help within 5 minutes or less. With the PLB it signals the SAR guys directly. With the SPOT and similar devices it first goes to GEOS when then calls your emergency contacts for verification. Then if your EC states that "yes, i know there were hiking in the mountains in that location......etc.. . Then GEOS will start to contact whatever local emergency providers that can find. All of this takes time. And what happens if your emergency contact is unavailable? I don't know.... but again, more time.
With both of these devices above, there is no way for them to know what type of emergency you are having. Did you blow out your knee and can't get off the side of a mountain, or do you have someone that is pinned under falling debris, major laceration. They have no idea what they are going to be sent to or how to prepare.

This brings me to Sat phones and the InReach and VHF/UHF. I went over sat phones earlier, but I'm including it in here because even though the InReach is not voice communications,  it is still 2WAY communications.
With the Sat phone, if you can get a call out, you can state the nature of your emergency, location of pickup, means of communication ( frequency, sat phone number), special equipment needed, etc...  (9 line medevac anyone?)
This brings me to VHF/UHF. This is and excellent means of communication as long as someone is LISTENING! Thy have to be within range and actually listening to you. There is no voicemail, or text messages to be read later (yes i am familiar that some new units will do this but not in the SAR capacity). But, when you already have the cavalry on the way, and need a straight line of communication to them, there is nothing quicker as long as you are within range. For the most part, its hard not to be in direct contact with an aircraft that is close by. Yes, these are line of sight radios, but when the aircraft is at a few thousand feet, thats the equivalent of one HUGE antenna!!

 In comes the InReach and similar products. With these you have a way to not only send and receive text messages to loved ones, but also to call for help. Some of the models even have an SOS button on them just like the SPOT and other devices. Again, this goes to a 3rd party group and not directly to search and rescue, so it takes more time. BUT, having 2 way communications will allow you to update either SAR personnel or someone in your contact list with up to date information for relay to rescue personnel. With this, you would be able to start treatment and if need be, move a patient closer to a pick up site and still be able to stay in communication with them to let them know you are moving. You could also request a helicopter at the beginning, and if the pt improves to the point that it is believed that ground transport would be better suited, then you can change your request.

So as you can see, they all work, but work differently. The level of response and time of response all varies. We have always been told to make sure and have 2 means of communication when working in SAR.
My personal experience with these devices is very limited other then the VHF/UHF. I have only had one SAR in which someone had used a PLB and it got us within feet of their location. But like i said, my experience with those is limited to 1.  My means of communications have always been my cellphone, (which is almost never used) and my VHF/UHF radios. We also wear a Garmin Foretrex 401 and it has always been reliable for me. We always take paper maps and a compass. If someone has the means of giving us a grid, awesome! If not, we work off of terrain feature if we were given any, or if we have had no contact with them, we cut sign and start a grid.

RANGER TIM:
Thanks for the message and update. I know where you are coming from with your statement. All i can say is that the camp has been running these same camps and dates for the last 70 years. So for the last 70 summers, the same things have been going on. Now one would hope that by now they would be extremely experienced and have some sort of reliable communication. They do have a hard line (land line) at base camp. As far as being a responsible decision, well thats not exactly up to me. It is up to the committee and the parents. There was a discussion the other day and the decision was made by the committee and parents to continue. I was asked to attend this particular group because of my experience, and fitness. I don't say that to sound cocky in any way, because I'm not a super athlete. Some of the other leaders could not make the height/weight requirements. So, i am going because i was asked to be the leader to participate in this program.

As far as coms. I am very experienced when it comes to not only using coms, but also programming coms. I have my own KVL4000 and have experience programming encryption. Myself and one other are the only 2 to work on any of our radios at the firehouse, and on the SAR radios. We have taught others how to work with them, but when it comes to programming either with CHIRP, PCConfigure, RDX, CP, etc. we are the only 2 that will work with that stuff. The 2 of us were the ones that had to go down and program our police departments radios when they switched over to encryption about 2 years ago.
However, I was never after any encrypted data and if they are truly using encryption then i will drop it completely.  That is something i don't want to touch if it doesn't belong to me.
I wonder if he meant APCO P25 though as it will give clearer coms in areas like that. Im not sure why they would be running encryption on their main dispatch channel. Definitely on their TAC channels with the west side being a border town. But normally encryption is used at times when you have very good reception as the encryption does degrade some of the attenuation of the signal.
Thank you for letting me know that even the sat phones and plbs are spotty out there. I didn't plan on only 1 source of communications, but you let me know that i definitely need 2. So thank you.

Anyways, thanks everyone for all your help. I will update later if i find out anything more. I just figured i would update with a little bit of what i learned in case anyone else is interested in the PLB, Sat phone, InReach stuff for travel out in this area. My family and I will be taking a trip back out to BiBe again after it cools off. We really enjoy spending some winters out there! Its the same place, but starts to look like a while new world if you've ever seen it with snow!
Take care guys and gals!
« Last Edit: June 18, 2017, 03:21:23 PM by 19dsniper »

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Offline Ranger Tim

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2017, 05:49:46 PM »
I wish you the best of luck out there,... it is going to be damned hot and I hope that y'all can find good shelter out there.
"The greatest happiness possible to man ... is to become civilized, to know the pageant of the past, to love the beautiful,... and then, retaining animal instincts and appetites, to live in the wilderness"
- J. Frank Dobie

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Offline badknees

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2017, 06:17:32 PM »
I wish you the best of luck out there,... it is going to be damned hot and I hope that y'all can find good shelter out there.

^^^^What he said +10!
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

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Offline Flash

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Re: Jeff Davis County frequencies needed due to no coms/ death.
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2017, 07:13:19 PM »
I wish you the best of luck out there,... it is going to be damned hot and I hope that y'all can find good shelter out there.

^^^^What he said +10!

If they get to go swimming at the "Notch", they will get to cool off something special!  :great:

 


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