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How technology can keep us safe outdoors

Have you seen this Apple Watch commercial?


My first response to this was an out loud, “that’s awesome!” As a wilderness medicine trained emergency medicine doctor, I love the idea of an automated system being able to bridge the gap between a backcountry accident and calling 911 to get the injured person to definitive medical care. More people than ever are getting outside for sport, exercise, and adventure. A recent study of almost 13,000 people around the world found weekly outdoor exercise increased by 38-88% during the pandemic. But unfortunately, accidents happen.

When (and where) 911 isn’t enough

After a few more minutes of thinking about this commercial, I realized there was a missing link. While it’s a great idea to have your smartwatch auto-connect to emergency services, there is a big issue with this communication chain. In reality, outdoor accidents often happen in isolated areas with no phone access or broadband connectivity. In these locations, 911 is not a viable option. And what if you are in a country that doesn’t even have a 911 service to answer your call?

That’s why I founded Global Outdoor Emergency Support (GOES). This platform gives you the ability to make critical health decisions with up-to-date knowledge and evidence-based medical expertise specific to your situation — whenever you need it. When you are off-line with no access there is a user-friendly decision tree to give you the power to evaluate the situation, and then decide whether you can continue with your adventure, or need to get out and seek help.

Help making the tough calls

Over two decades of providing medical direction for expeditions around the world, I have found that the most difficult decisions are often when to turn around. Even if just one person needs to end their adventure, the outcome of that assessment affects the entire group. That ends the journey (and fun) for a lot of people.

A lot of different factors go into these tough decisions, and people need to understand the risks and different options available to them. The ability to make decisions off-grid is extremely valuable. It gives you a sense of security and an added layer of protection. When a bad situation happens, we want to take care of it before it turns into a health emergency.

Stay safe with GOES — on or off-grid

I think about this real-life situation in the commercial and appreciate the benefit that real-time notification can provide — this technology is amazing! But in the outdoors, people also need to be able to take care of themselves because they cannot always count on 911.

That\’s where GOES comes in, to give you the tools you need to take care of your health outdoors.

Even without cell service, the GOES Health App comes loaded with a wealth of knowledge and tips for a variety of outdoor medical situations. Although they can\’t be there in person, our wilderness medicine-trained physicians are with you in spirit — guiding you through assessment and treatment options via our interactive offline chatbot.

If you do have access to cellular or satellite phone service, these same outdoor medicine experts can provide text and phone support via our 24-7 emergency hotline. After you get back home, we\’re still available to answer any questions that arise.

Where will your next adventure take you?

We created GOES partly because we believe you should never have to be alone. We are standing by to help.

So get out there, and stay safe.

Dr. Grant

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