Emergency Point of Contact (EPOC)
Your EPOC is probably the most important person should the emergency services be called to look for or rescue you. Someone ‘back home’ should be nominated as your EPOC, and you need to equip them with the necessary information and advice so that they can assist the emergency services if contacted.
- leave a note of who’s in the group, together with relevant experience
- brief description equipment carried, i.e. are you equipped to stay out the night if you had to
- car make/model/registration and where to be parked (as appropriate)
- emergency procedure activation time
Write it Down & Train
Should the time come when your EPOC needs to dial 999 and contact the police, that could be a stressful and worrying time for them, and they may forget to relay key information. This is why it’s best to write it all down so that they can read relevant information to police. Run a training session for your EPOC, and give them the opportunity to ask questions so that you know they understand. Change the procedures if they don’t, or find someone else if they really don’t understand. Train a couple of people and make sure they can access the instructions when they need to. Have a record of when you trained them, and refresh their memories once a year. This process will take a few minutes, but will save hours in the event of a real emergency, and could save you.
Why You Need an EPOC
If you were reported missing by, say, your B&B as you’d failed to return, the police would need to gather as much information about the situation as possible. How many in the party, where were you walking from, what route were you intending to take, etc. Assuming that the B&B knew basic information about you, it may be possible for them to make contact with someone back home. If that person is non-the-wiser about any important information, the rescue services are going to be little better off, and take longer to find you. Anything you can do to lessen the search means that you get rescued quicker.
Having an EPOC removes time from the search effort, which is why you need one.
For emergency message systems such as a PLB
or satellite messenger
, a requirement of those systems is that you provide details of EPOCs. In the situation of an emergency activation, the procedure is for the emergency services to make contact with your EPOC to check whether the activation could have been in error. If your EPOC is equipped with a proper plan there will be no delay from the emergency services. Contrast that with a situation whereby they’d call to be met with bemusement and lack of knowledge about where you were, let alone the route you’d taken and with whom.
Leave a note in your car window
Leaving a note in your car window with expected time of return may well lead to unwanted consequences. However, would there be any harm in leaving a visible note with the word EPOC, and their telephone number? A concerned member of the public could contact police having noticed that your car was there late at night, or even over night. A quick call to your EPOC will clear up any concerns and leave the police to get on with the myriad of other tasks they are expected to do these days.