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The information on this page is to be used as a guide only. Always seek professional advice and/or training before purchasing or relying on emergency signalling and communication devices
 
At the very most practical level, the use of communication devices will allow you to contact someone in an emergency. This is an essential and critical component of any remote area activity planning- including walking the Larapinta Trail. Emergency signaling devices allow you to alert other people and rescue agencies to locate and pin point your location. As easy as this may seem with modern technology, most rescuers will be relying on visual sightings to identify exactly where you are.
Key Points
Point There is very limited mobile phone coverage along the trail
Point SATPHONES are the best form of remote communications
Point Digital PLB's (Personal Locator Beacons) are an excellent backup
Point There is an emergency radio phone near Ellery Creek
Point There is payphone at Standley Chasm
Point Park Rangers at Ormiston Gorge & Simpson Gap for serious emergencies
Point Always include some form of emergency signalling device in your kit
Emergency_Devices Whistles
When yelling for help fails or is no longer possible ( i.e. severe thirst, weakness etc) or you need something louder than your own voice, whistles provide an excellent alternative for close up signalling. Lightweight, cheap and easy to carry, they can be heard hundreds of meters away. Definitely worth carrying.
Emergency_Devices Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)
A PLB or Personal Locator Beacon ( a smaller version of the EPIRB) when activated  sends a distress signal which is detectable by satellites or over flying aircraft. PLB's vary in capability, but generally should have a minimum 24-48 transmission period and be GPS enabled ( allowing exact position accuracy up to 100m). All PLB's must now be digital 406 MHz.external_link
Right Image Model Shown: ACR ResQLink+™ PLBexternal_link
Emergency_Devices Satellite Messaging Devices
One of the most popular satellite messaging devices is the SPOT external_link device. This is a subscription based service which offers SOS emergency messaging, GPS tracking, custom messaging and other features. The tracking feature can also be viewed in near real time online. It is lightweight, easy to use and 100% satellite technology based. BUT it has drawbacks and is a poor alternative to a PLB.
Emergency_Devices Strobe Lights
Strobe lights are an excellent night signalling device because they can be seen up to 7-10km on a clear night. They are lightweight, robust and  can work continuously for up to 8 hours. Always have a spare set of batteries.
Right Image Model Shown: ACR Firefly®3external_link
Emergency_Devices Flashlight/Torch
Obviously any type of torch or headlamp can be used at night for sending emergency signals. There are also powerful LED torches with up to 500.0 lumens available on the market today. Good LED torches generally cost between $150 to $200 depending on brand.
Emergency_Devices Lasers
Laser signaling devices can be more effective than conventional torches but are also much more expensive (about $170). A current lightweight product called the Rescue Laser Flare is visible up to 30km at night and up to 6km in the day. They are compact, non flammable and non hazardous.
Emergency_Devices Cyalume Sticks (Night)
Cyalume sticks are a light weight handy piece of equipment. They are excellent for marking locations of campsites, packs or people at night but are only visible to the naked eye at night up to a kilometre away. Although they are a 'one off' item, they are cheap - about $7-$10 each and a worth it. They come in various colours which includes white, yellow, blue, red and orange.
Emergency_Devices Signal Mirrors (Day)
Most personal signal mirrors are small, compact and sturdy. It is one of the most practical, basic and best all-round signaling devices. It doesn't need batteries, but it does need the user to have a bit of knowledge and skill in its use. In normal sunlight conditions in Central Australia, mirrors can be seen up to 10 - 20km away and much further from the air.
Emergency_Devices UHF/VHF/HF Radio
UHF/VHF radio is not a practical communication choice for hiking. Radios are heavy, cumbersome, need to be re-charged and the mountainous terrain of the Larapinta Trail can make UHF/VHF communications difficult. VHF and HF radios need some technical and specialised knowledge to use effectively.
Emergency_Devices Bright Clothing/Markers
Bright clothing, tents or panel markers (pictured) in the open is one effective way of being seen, particularly in open terrain (and in daylight). If you have no other signaling devices, spread what bright clothes or items ( i.e. sleeping bag, tents, markers) you have on the ground to help authorities spot you, particularly from the air, or hang them in tress for ground searches.
Emergency_Devices Flares
Mini Flares
These generally come in small packet of 8 individual flares, they are fired from a small handheld tool.  The flare has an approximate burning time of about 10-12 seconds and can go as high as 70m-100m and visible up to 6-10km ( more at night). 
Day Night Flares
These flares are very compact personal survival flares with a signal red flare at one end (for use at night), and a dense orange smoke at the other (for daylight). They are compact and easy to carry. Smoke burn time is approx 18 seconds, while flare burn time is approx 20 seconds at 10,000 candlelight
Infobit from the Field: Mount Sonder (S4) is one of the few locations with Telstra mobile access. In July 2013 we used a Blackberry Bold mobile phone with Telstra and managed to get four bars and made a number of calls with clear reception.
Mobile Phone   
Warning
Relying on mobile phone coverage for rescue communications is NOT recommended. More than 95% of the Larapinta Trail has no mobile coverage whatsoever. ALWAYS carry a PLB.
There is very limited Telstra mobile phone coverage along the Larapinta Trail.  Most of the mobile reception points are located on very high ground and have uninterrupted direct lines of sight to the towers located at Alice Springs and Hermannsburg Community more than 100km away.  Some known spots for mobile reception include Euro Ridge ( Section 1), Brinkley Bluff (Section 4), Counts Point (Section 8), Hill Top Lookout (Section 11) and Mount Sonder ( Section 12).
Satellite Phone
Satellite phones are one of the best tools for remote area communication. Handheld mobiles such as the Iridium 9575 Satellite Phone offer a small, lightweight compact system, ideal for trekking. You can makes & receive calls anywhere in the world, send and receive SMS texts and receive calls. Also includes online tracking, GPS positioning and a emergency SOS button.
Conventional Landline Phones
There are only two locations where conventional landlines can be found along the Larapinta Trail. They are listed below.
Type Location Contact these locations for more info
Landline Standley Chasm (08) 8956 7325
Landline Ormiston Kiosk (08) 8954 6198
Emergency Radio Phones
There is an Emergency Radio Phone located at Ellery Creek in the vicinity of the S6/7 Trailhead. The phone is located about a kilometre south from the Ellery Creek camping ground and facilities. Follow the unsealed road south back toward the highway .
Location of Emergency Radio Phone at Ellery Creek

This ACR video explains how PLBs work, why they should be used and what advantaged they have over Satellite Messaging devices (i.e SPOT etc)
  406 Beacon Information/Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
  Knowledge: How to use a PLB
  Knowledge: How to use a signal mirror
  Knowledge: How to use a mini flare
  Knowledge: How to use a strobe light
  Product Info: Personal Locator Beacons ( PLBs) - ACR Website external_link
  Product Info: Rescue and Distress Lights - ACR Website external_link
  Product Info: Powerful LED torches - Surefire Website external_link
  Product Info: Signal Mirror - ACR Website external_link
 
Emergency_Devices Fire (Night)  and Smoke (Day)
Caution
Using fire or smoke signalling for rescue should be considered as a last resort option. Fires can easily get out of control, particularly where dry grass and spinifex dominate along the trail. High winds will increase this risk substantially, particularly on high ground. Out of control fires not only risk bushfires and damage to the natural environment, but can cause serious injury or death.
 
 
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