A satphone is the one companion you can’t do without
Dr Leo Montejo and Adrian Hayes are veterans of the Himalayas, and both know the true value of Thuraya from first-hand experience.
If you frequently work or travel in remote, dangerous places, the day may well come when you realise that a satellite phone is your best friend.
This realisation might hit you suddenly when you urgently need to call for help in an emergency, especially if you use the built-in SOS button function. Or it might develop gradually over time simply because your satphone makes your life easier and safer every day, allowing you to make or receive calls without delay at any time and in any place. The long battery life certainly helps, as does the navigation system.
For Dr Leo Montejo, Chief Executive Officer of tech company WiCis, the moment of truth came in March 2016. He was part of an expedition climbing in the Himalayas when three of the group fell sick. One climber had such bad mountain sickness he had to be rescued by helicopter, and the call for help went out from a Thuraya SatSleeve+.
Dr. Leo Montejo in Mustang, Nepal
“We were testing the Thuraya system with our WiCis-Sports app, so our focus was on that,” he said. “However, as soon as the medical emergency occurred we immediately turned to the satphone as the quickest way to call the rescue service. It was great to have it there and to know it would not let us down.”
Apart from his love of the Himalayas, record-breaking adventurer and former British Army Gurkha officer Adrian Hayes also shares Leo’s appreciation of Thuraya’s technology. For Adrian, however, there was no specific moment of revelation. A Thuraya user of 15 years’ standing, he has carried a satphone with him on his many climbs in the Himalayas, including reaching the summit of K2 in 2014, and on expeditions such as his 44-day crossing of the Arabian Desert on foot in 2011. But it was in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquakes of April and May 2015 that he really saw the power of a satellite phone that operates independently of terrestrial communications.
Adrian worked for weeks using his skills as a paramedic and Nepalese speaker to bring medical aid to victims of the disaster – initially in the remote Makalu region after the first quake, and then in Sindupalchok and Dolakha after the second. “My Thuraya XT-PRO was a lifeline to the world during that period not only for me but also for the villagers I met who desperately needed to contact loved ones elsewhere in Nepal,” he said. “Thuraya’s fantastic call quality and network coverage meant I could always rely on it.” The satphone allowed Adrian to maintain contact with the media in the outside world wherever he went, giving them updates on the dire situation on the ground for survivors.
Ain't no mountain high enough. Adrian on a Himalayan expedition.
His commitment to the health and well-being of the people of Nepal led Adrian to return with fellow qualified paramedic Royston Polding in September 2015 to give more medical aid, again with the back-up of a Thuraya satphone. This visit reinforced his conviction that a systematic way of delivering basic medical service was needed for people in the Himalayas, and this led to the creation of MIRA Himalaya (Medicine in Remote Areas, Himalaya). The project offers general medicine, first aid and health and hygiene education in the hills and mountains of Nepal.
The need to advance medical assistance in remote places is a passion shared by Dr Leo Montejo, although his company’s collaboration with Thuraya is focused specifically on the health of climbers and other adventurers. The WiCis-Sports app collects health data from lightweight sensors worn by climbers under their clothing and transmits it over the Thuraya network on to the worldwide web in real time. This data is “hospital-grade”, so doctors like Leo on the other side of the world can use that information to monitor the health of a climber and raise the alarm quickly if a health issue arises.
Garrett Madison on Mt. K2.
In June and July of 2016, Leo worked with mountaineer Garrett Madison of Madison Mountaineering to test the Thuraya/WiCis solution on a climb of K2, the world’s second highest mountain. After a hard day’s climbing at high altitude he saw from Garrett’s data that the oxygen saturation of his blood was down to 75%. “That’s far too low for a normal person, and not great even for an athlete like Garrett,” said Leo, “so I advised him to take oxygen that night while sleeping. He was fine the next morning, but it was good medical practice to take the precaution. If necessary, I could have called him on the Thuraya satphone and talked the issue through.”
Leo and Adrian both know from personal experience that, when it comes to safety in remote places, your satphone really is your best friend – and is often the best friend of the people you set out to help.
Thuraya SatSleeve+: http://www.thuraya.com/satsleeve-plus Thuraya XT-PRO: http://www.thuraya.com/xt-pro Adrian Hayes: http://www.adrianhayes.com Learn more about the WiCis-Sports app & the Thuraya collaboration: http://www.wicis-sports.com/index.php/partnerships/thuraya