Web site allows returning thrill seekers to ‘check in’
February 18, 2008
While riding a chairlift and soaking up a relatively quiet afternoon at Homewood Mountain Resort last spring, Jeff Arndt began to wonder what would happen if he accidentally fell from the nearly-vacant lift.
“If I fall off this, who would know?” Arndt said of the thoughts running through his head that day. “I live alone, so no one knows when I go skiing, and no one knows when I get back.”
Soon afterward, Arndt ” a Reno Web site developer and technician ” began to construct a Web page designed for individuals who want to record when they are leaving, and when they will return from activities such as skiing, running, camping, hiking, hunting, snowboarding or biking.
“More and more people are going out by themselves and to have a service that will wait to make sure they come back safe is a necessity,” Arndt said. “It’s basically a support system, so if something were to happen, you know at a certain point, someone is looking for you.”
The site, http://www.safecheckin.com, launched in January and allows members to create a profile detailing their physical appearance, emergency contacts and any medical conditions. The information is private, and can only be shared with designated contacts or emergency personnel.
Individuals can “check out” when departing for a certain activity by entering where they are going and when they expect to arrive back, and then “check in” upon returning, Arndt said.
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If the member becomes overdue, Web site personnel ” who monitor the page 24 hours a day ” will first attempt to notify the member and subsequently their emergency contacts. If deemed necessary, local authorities can be contacted for rescue missions or missing person reports.
“For years we’ve been trying to talk to people about filing trip plans and itineraries,” said Walt Jones, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue coordinator. “This Web site will be a fantastic thing, and will help all around.”
Arndt said feedback has been positive, and membership is starting to trickle in. Currently, there are only Tahoe Basin residents participating, but Arndt hopes the site will expand nationwide.
“We want to see what kind of kinks there might be, and find out feedback to keep improving the service,” he said.
Sgt. Tim Hargrove of the Truckee Police Department said most search and rescue missions are initiated by employers or family members who are vaguely unaware of the missing person’s whereabouts.
“It would definitely benefit to have a system like this because there’s nothing out there that’s doing this sort of thing,” Hargrove said. “The quicker you get the information, the quicker you can act on it.”