Top Questions: Triggering an SOS on an inReach® Device

Learn about what happens when you trigger an SOS on an inReach device,1 how the Garmin International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) staff coordinates a rescue response, steps you can take to help aid in a rescue and more of the most frequently asked questions regarding the SOS process. 

WHEN CAN I TRIGGER AN SOS?

Use your best judgment when triggering an SOS. There is no one-size-fits-all list, since each individual circumstance can impact the urgency and seriousness of the situation. A good rule to go by is that when you feel uncertain of the outcome of your situation — that’s the time to reach out for help. 

During an SOS, you can message the IERCC to provide information about your predicament. The Garmin IERCC will assess and make sure local emergency organizations are on standby. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

WHO CAN I TRIGGER AN SOS FOR?

You may trigger an SOS for anyone — yourself, another individual in your party, a third-party individual or an emergency situation like a wildfire or vehicle breakdown. Many SOS activations are for individuals who are not the registered device owner. It is also acceptable for someone who is borrowing the device to trigger an SOS.

Before a trip with a group, show others you’re recreating with how to use the inReach device. This can be helpful if you’re unable to use the device, such as in this SOS incident in Alaska.

WHAT INFORMATION DOES THE GARMIN IERCC SEE DURING AN SOS?

The Garmin IERCC has access to the profile information associated with the device owner’s account. This includes emergency contact information, emergency notes, battery life and location data.

CAN I MESSAGE DURING AN SOS?

Yes, you can message with the Garmin IERCC and other contacts during an SOS. Messaging with others will not impact the SOS status. During the rescue response, the Garmin IERCC may also ask that you message directly with first responders.

Note: Messaging allows you to provide additional details to the Garmin IERCC to help aid in the response. Messaging is not required for the Garmin IERCC to move forward with initiating a response.

WHO RESPONDS TO A RESCUE? HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?

The Garmin IERCC maintains a global database of local first responders. When an SOS is triggered, the Garmin IERCC reaches out to the appropriate emergency service or other resources to assist. The responding organization will determine the best way to conduct a rescue based on several factors (resource availability, location, weather, incident type, etc.).

There is no specific timeline for a rescue as each situation has different variables. The Garmin IERCC will initiate communication after the SOS trigger is acknowledged and will maintain communication until assistance is no longer needed. They will also keep your emergency contacts updated on the situation, unless requested not to by the device user. 

WHAT DOES A RESCUE COST?

Rescue costs, if any, are determined by the applicable laws and regulations for the location where the rescue is conducted and may vary based on the utilized resources. Any fees incurred due to aid or rescue when triggering an SOS are charged to the individual for whom the SOS was triggered. It’s important to check with local authorities in the area to which you plan to travel for information regarding rescue costs and services.

WHAT DOES SOS COVERAGE INCLUDE?

SOS coverage is included with an active inReach subscription and covers:

SOS coverage does not cover:

HOW DO I TEST MY INREACH DEVICE?

You can use the Test feature on an inReach device to ensure that your subscription is active and your device is sending and receiving messages. 

To send a test message:

Note: Five free test messages per month are included on all plans.

CAN I TRIGGER A TEST SOS?

Yes, you can schedule a test of the SOS functionality on your inReach device. SOS tests are scheduled through the Garmin IERCC, and test requests must be submitted every time you wish to test the device. The Garmin IERCC will confirm the date/time and provide testing instructions. Visit iercc.com for more information.

Want to learn more about triggering an SOS on your inReach device? Watch our “Everything You Need to Know About SOS” webinar or this short video.

1An active satellite subscription is required. Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communications 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.