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[at-l] Cell phones and safety (realistically)

I hope we don't get a great cell phone debate going here, but every once in
awhile I think it is good to point out the misconceptions about cell phones
and safety.

Personally, I would consider taking a cell phone for only one reason.  Not
for my safety, but to let me know if I need to go home on an emergency.  My
father-in-law is 93 years old and in poor health.  If his condition were to
worsen on one of my 25-30 long section hikes, then I would want to know as
soon as possible in order to leave the trail and get back to be with my wife
and her father.  I'm sure there are other such "emergencies" that most of us
would want to know about immediately.

There should be, however, careful thought given to the myth that cell phones
do much of anything to help out in 95% of personal safety concerns to the
actual hiker.  Think about the following questions:

1.	What type of injury could you sustain that a cell phone would get
you help in time to save your life on the trail?
2.	What is the response time for emergency rescue for a seriously
injured person on a trail such as the AT?
3.	How many rescue units have a helicopter and hoist (don't be
picturing the type the Coast Guard uses for sea rescues) to be able to lift
you out of the woods, or off a mountain top?  (You probably won't get hurt
on a "bald" where a helicopter could land.)
4.	If you suffer a brain injury, who is going to use the cell phone for
5.	Will the cell phone make you more careless because you have a false
sense of security with a cell phone in your pack?
6.	How often would you be hurt in a spot where there is a reasonable
expectation that a cell phone would have adequate coverage?

Personally, I don't care if others carry cell phones or not.  However, you
should be realistic about their usefulness in actual emergencies.  I am
speaking from the voice of experience.  My first hike of several days left a
member of our group with a broken ankle, fourteen miles from the nearest
trailhead.  The cell phone wouldn't reach out from the spot and it took us
24 hours to get her out.  By the way, we had to carry her over a mile to get
to a spot where the helicopter could land - no hoist after all.
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