Several of Global Rescue’s blogs educate travelers and outdoor enthusiasts on the importance of being able to communicate at all times — even in the backcountry. A two-way communication device is essential if you have an emergency when you are off the grid. 

But what do you say when you’re using the device to contact Global Rescue? What information needs to be shared with rescue operation professional in that phone call or e-mail? 

ONE: Share Your Plans

Harding Bush, manager of operations at Global Rescue, stresses the importance of setting up a contingency plan before your trip.  

“It’s something you do all the time: Hey, I’m going to the store. I’ll be back in an hour,” he said. “But if you’re going into a remote, austere or backcountry environment with a little more risk, this information has to be more specific.” 


hikers trekking through the swiss apls

TWO: Provide Details

Share more than your destination with your emergency contact: friend, family member or colleague. Give specific details.  

“Instead of ‘I’m going hiking in Enfield’, say, ‘I’m going hiking in the Enfield Forest on the north side of Route 12, south of Mascoma Lake.’ Include coordinates, if known, and distance and direction from known land features,” Bush said. “Write it down and hand it to them. If you need to be rescued, that information is going to make the haystack smaller and the needle bigger.” 

If you are traveling with Joe, Bob and Phil, also write down their full names and their contact information. Driving? Provide a description of the vehicles and where you plan to park. 


two people looking at map one pointing to desination

THREE: Be Specific

You’re also going to provide a departure time and an estimated return time. “Most folks think that’s enough, but you should add what the person who has the plan should do if they don’t hear from you,” Bush said. 

This includes setting up a check-in time with your emergency contact.  

“Tell them: if you don’t hear from me, call me at this number. If I don’t answer call Joe, Bob and Phil,” Bush said. “No answer? Call the Enfield Forest park rangers at this number and let them know all the information I’ve given you in the contingency plan.” 

And reminding your emergency contact to pick up the phone — even if they don’t recognize the number — during the time window of your trip.  

“You could lose your phone or it could break, and you may be calling from someone else’s phone,” Bush said. 

Step one to three should sound familiar: it’s called GOTWA, a brief outlining your essential travel details: going where (G), others going with you (O), time span you will be gone (T), what to do if you do not return in that timely manner (W) and final actions to take if you do not return (A).   

FOUR: Info for Rescuers

The more details rescue operation professionals have related to your situation, the better they can facilitate the most appropriate rescue assets for you. Without these details, your rescue can take much longer or be more complicated, or both.     

“You are injured and you have to call Global Rescue,” Bush said. “What are the critical pieces of information you need?” 

Name. Don’t worry about your membership number or phone number. Global Rescue needs your full name and we’ll confirm your membership by asking for your birthday. 

Location and description. “The location should, ideally, be a grid coordinate, latitude or longitude. Most times you can find that on your cell phone or watch,” Bush said. “If you can’t get it, you want to provide a description of your location. I’m in the Enfield State Forest. I’m four miles north of the Roaring Brook Trailhead.”  

Situation. Tell the rescue professionals what happened: I broke my leg and I can’t move.  

Requirements. Tell rescue professionals what you need: I can’t walk. I need someone to come and get me. 

Intentions. Share your plans: We have plenty of food and water; we can stay the night, if necessary. Or I broke my leg but my friend is going to build a litter and drag me down the hill. “They may tell you, no you’re not. You’re going to stay right there and we’ll come get you,” Bush said. 

Global Rescue operations specialist using phone with solar panel

“This information — name, location, what happened, what you need and what you plan to do — makes your rescue more efficient,” Bush said. 

He notes sharing the on-the-ground weather and terrain conditions helps tremendously.  

“Our rescue operations team has access to global weather monitoring information and topography maps but gleaning the additional perspective from the individual on the ground is abundantly useful,” Bush said.   

Bush also recommends bringing a notebook.  

“It’s one of the most important devices you can take with you into the field. Your phone might be at 10% and you don’t have much time to talk. Or it’s dark, you’re scared and nervous,” Bush said. “Write it down and rehearse it before you (or your fellow traveler) get on the phone or radio.” 

This notebook will hold all your important phone numbers. “We keep all our contacts in our phones now, so make sure you have your important numbers written down. It’s one of those little inconveniences, combined with other factors, that can creep in and cause a catastrophe,” Bush said. 

Bring Global Rescue With You

Besides a two-way communication device, what is also essential for off-the-grid travel? A Global Rescue membership. Not only can we pluck you from whatever precarious situation you find yourself unable to get out of on your own — and do so fast — but because, without us, a medical evacuation for illness or injury could cost you thousands of dollars. Under our membership, you never see a bill.