In the Börzsöny Mountains - as in many other places - mobile phone coverage is often incomplete, making it difficult to call for help. When someone is in trouble, they may easily find themselves without signal on their phone, and we have often encountered situations where the phone was either dead or running out of battery. To ensure you receive help in time if you get into trouble, please take care of the following two things primarily:

  • If you are hiking alone, involve one of your family members or friends in your plans: when, from where, by which route, and where you will go, and approximately when you will arrive. Ask them to notify the authorities if you don't check in with them at the expected arrival time.

  • If your phone's battery is already unreliable, bring a power bank with you. It is advisable to carry one even if you have a relatively new device: using the map, taking photos can drain the battery faster, and cold weather can also cause it to drain quickly.

  • Have an offline map on your phone and learn how to read GPS coordinates on the device/software you use!

If you get into trouble and need assistance, call the emergency number 112 and the local mountain rescue service. The 112 emergency number can be dialed from any phone and any network. There is a misconception that 112 can be called even if there is no signal somewhere, unfortunately, this is not true. However, calling the 112 phone number is network-independent, your phone will attempt to initiate the call even if there is no signal on your own network but on another network. It has happened several times in the Börzsöny Mountains that the request for assistance was made through the mediation of the Slovak Police because the phone connected to the Slovak network.

Typically, there is no signal in the deep valleys of the Börzsöny, but if you move to a higher point, there will likely be enough signal for you to call for help. If there are two or more of you, then one of you should start moving upwards, and eventually there will be some signal! If you are alone, depending on your condition, you need to decide if you can go uphill because of the signal. If not, it's better to stay on the trail because there's a greater chance that someone will pass by.

When using smartphones, calling the 112 number will automatically display your GPS position at the emergency center because it sends the phone's own GPS position. In the absence of this, they can still identify the position, but it will not be as accurate initially because it will display the values of the geometric shape representing the coverage area used by the provider when the call is initiated (e.g., polygon coordinates, WGS84 coordinate system, or other data allowed by the definition). In urban areas, this is 1 km, but in rural or mountainous areas, it could be up to a 10-kilometer radius (at least according to the ETSI TS Emergency Location Protocols).

Don't forget that besides initiating a call to the 112 emergency number, you can also send an SMS. This can be important if there is no signal for an extended period, but it is possible that there will be a brief moment of signal and your SMS will go through!

In addition to calling 112, it is advisable to call the local rescue organization, in our case, the Börzsöny Mountain Rescue Service. For two reasons: it may take time for your emergency call to reach us (for example, due to the boundaries of counties or countries where the recording of the emergency call begins elsewhere, resulting in a slower response to us), and direct contact allows us to intervene more accurately due to better local knowledge. In the case of the Börzsöny, it may happen that we are not the quickest to arrive, or others may also be needed, such as when we need to notify the Nagymaros Volunteer Fire Department or the Ipoly Valley Special Rescuers .

Almost every device is capable of sending your position via SMS. In the following images, you can see how to send your position via SMS to the Börzsöny Mountain Rescue Service from an Android phone.

Emergency call in the Börzsöny (2024.02.16.) - pozicio kuldes

If you hike a lot and can afford it, it's practical to buy some kind of satellite tracking/messaging device or phone. Many solutions are available on the market already; for example, we use Cat S75 phones. These phones are capable of sending text messages via satellite even where there is no cellular coverage. They are incredibly easy to use, and through a chat application, you can have a subscription for as little as a few euros per month. You can send text messages, share your location, or even send an SOS distress signal. Anyone can receive the message because it will appear as an SMS, but in order to reply, they need to download a free chat application.

Of course, it's best to be prepared beforehand and not get into trouble, so it's good to read our HIKING TIPS and other advisory content. Nevertheless, accidents can happen to anyone, even the most experienced hikers, and under stress, anyone can make mistakes, even the coolest and most experienced hikers and climbers. It's not embarrassing to ask for help; if the thought has crossed your mind, don't try to dismiss it! Timely assistance can save your life and is definitely a significant health-preserving factor. It's also better for rescue teams to respond to a minor incident than to mobilize extensive resources, fight with numerous specialized equipment for your life, or search with hundreds of people and drones because they couldn't approximately identify where you are.

When calling for help, try to be objective and describe your location and condition as accurately as possible. It matters whether rescue helicopters take off for you or if two mountain rescuers can just hop into a jeep and head towards you. When we receive a distress call, we have many questions because based on the location, type of injury, your condition, expected dangers and deteriorating conditions, weather conditions, and the approach method, we decide how many and in what form assistance will be provided, and from which other organizations we request assistance. Be patient; in some cases, it may take an hour or two for the rescue team to arrive. Believe me, we don't stop for coffee along the way, but in the Börzsöny, access can be quite challenging. If you've just sprained your ankle and nothing else threatens your life and health, a rescue helicopter won't be dispatched; wait until we arrive.

We are volunteers into a non-profit organisation. Please be cool and support us.

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