2023 Garmin inReach® SOS Year in Review

From hikers on daytrips to drivers on road trips, the inReach SOS data from 2023 shows that inReach devices are an important tool for adventurers and commuters alike. In 2023 the largest percentage of SOS incidents came from hikers and backpackers, but the biggest increase resulted from driving-related situations. Read on for a look at the statistical breakdown.

Since 2011, Garmin inReach satellite technology1 has helped individuals stay in touch globally, send and receive messages outside of cellphone service areas, navigate routes, track and share journeys and, when necessary, trigger an interactive SOS message to the Garmin Response℠ emergency response coordination center. Many individuals’ lives have been changed from the help they received after triggering an SOS message on their inReach device.

Where were SOS incidents triggered from?

Chart showing what regions used inReach SOS incidents the most

With 100% global Iridium® satellite network coverage, an SOS can be triggered globally. The locations of SOS incidents speak to the power of the Iridium satellite network, the intel of inReach technology and the Garmin Response team’s ability to make timely connections with emergency resources all over the world.

Garmin Response is a leader in 24/7 emergency monitoring and incident response coordination services. Using a proprietary emergency monitoring platform that connects to a global database of first responders and emergency services, the dedicated team of skilled emergency response coordinators serves more than 200 countries and territories and supports more than 210 languages.

Just this year, dispatch responses varied from local police and ambulance services on major interstate highways to highly technical helicopter rescues on the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest. Responses all over the world — from New Zealand to Norway to Argentina to Canada — were coordinated for plane crashes, grizzly bear encounters, sinking sailboats, skiers in avalanches, stranded divers, injured climbers and many more.   

What were people doing when they triggered an SOS in 2023?

Pie chart showing popular activities when SOS were triggered

The largest percentage of SOS triggers this year came from adventurers who were out hiking or backpacking. The next highest number of SOS triggers came from driving and motorcycling incidents. This emphasizes the importance of having an inReach on hand for everyday “just in case” situations, such as witnessing or being involved in a motor vehicle accident, experiencing mechanical issues outside of cellphone service or encountering adverse weather while driving.

In 2023, we saw the biggest increases in driving-related SOS incidents, followed by climbing/mountaineering and fishing. Other common activities include boating, snowmobiling, camping, hunting, skiing/snowboarding, off-roading and more.

Why were people triggering an SOS in 2023?

Chart showing why people triggered an inReach SOS

The top reason that inReach users triggered an SOS in 2023 was for injuries. An injury can refer to issues such as broken bones, lacerations or blunt force trauma from a fall. Another top reason was medical issues, which can refer to concerns such as altitude sickness, heart problems and gastrointestinal issues, among others.

In 2023, we saw the biggest increases in vehicle accidents and issues. Becoming stranded or stuck, getting lost or reporting a lost individual, experiencing boating accidents or issues, and reporting wildfires were other reasons.  

Who were people triggering an SOS for?

Chart showing who triggered inReach SOS alerts

An inReach SOS can be triggered for anyone. While many SOS incidents were for the actual inReach user, more than half were for the user’s party member or a third-party individual. An SOS can also be triggered to report emergencies, including wildfires or vehicle accidents.

What responses were dispatched for incidents this year?

Chart showing what type of responders were sent on inReach SOS alerts

In the event of an emergency, an interactive SOS message can be sent to the Garmin Response Center. The trained staff is available to respond to messages, track devices, and coordinate with emergency services or others to dispatch assistance, giving individuals peace of mind that help is on the way. In 2023, helicopters, ambulances, and search and rescue teams were dispatched most frequently.

With the help of Garmin Response, inReach users were also able to self-rescue nearly 10% of the time in 2023. When self-rescue isn’t possible, Garmin offers search and rescue insurance plans, which can provide financial reimbursement for qualified search and rescue-related expenses.

Learn more: Triggering an SOS on an inReach Device

Thank You to the Responders

Behind these SOS incidents and rescues are dedicated emergency responders giving their time and energy to helping others. As we look back on another year, we give our thanks to all the responders involved in the rescue process, who are there for many inReach users in the most vulnerable times.

Here’s to safe and happy adventures in 2024.

1Active satellite subscription required. Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communication devices. It is the responsibility of the user to know and follow all applicable laws in the jurisdictions where the device is intended to be used.

OpenStreetMap is a trademark of OpenStreetMap Foundation, and is used with their permission. This product is not endorsed by or affiliated with the OpenStreetMap Foundation.