Equipped To Survive Foundation, Inc. Equipped To Survive Foundation
2005 Year End Recap
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Please support Equipped To Survive with a tax-deductible donationTo Friends and Supporters of the Equipped To Survive Foundation,

2005 has been a very busy year with some significant accomplishments to record. This is what your generous contributions have helped us to do:

Simulated rain on PLB
Simulated rain on emergency beacon at 2005 test
Our biggest project of the year was our second test of GPS enabled emergency beacons. We retested the beacons identified in last year's testing as having serious deficiencies and confirmed that McMurdo had addressed these deficiencies with their revised beacons and upgrade program/recall and that these beacons now operated properly. We also tested ACR Electronics' new PLB and determined that they operated properly. A 113 page report was published and made available free on the ETS Web site. Our groundbreaking independent testing holds the manufacturers' feet to the fire and gives the consumer confidence that these beacons will work to summon rescue when needed in dire circumstances. Our thanks to West Marine and BoatU.S. Foundation for their continued financial support for this effort.

As a result of those deficiencies identified in last year's emergency beacon testing, I was encouraged to participate as a working member on two international standards setting committees that determined that better standards were in order to ensure more reliable real world beacon performance. It is certain that no such changes would have even been contemplated were it not for the problems uncovered by the ETS Foundation testing and our specific recommendations for changes. We conducted a fund raising campaign initiated by a generous challenge grant from Allen Wolpert that successfully raised over $10,000 needed to cover the expenses involved in participating in many of these meetings.

During the past year I have attended six RTCM (Radio Technical Committee for Maritime) Special Committee 110 meetings at the RTCM office in Arlington, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C., and at the annual RTCM conference held in St. Petersburg, Florida. I also attended the COSPAS-SARSAT Task Group (a technical working group) meeting in February and the Joint Committee meeting in June, both held at COSPAS-SARSAT headquarters, at that time located in London, England. While these meetings cost a great deal to attend, including ETS Foundation having to join RTCM in order to be allowed to attend the COSPAS-SARSAT meetings, the results prove the value of that investment by those who contributed the funds that enabled me to attend.

Doug Ritter (front, left) attending COSPAS-SARSAT Task Group Meeting - London, February, 2005
Doug Ritter attending COSPAS-SARSAT Task Group Meeting - London
You can find a detailed report on my activities at these meetings and the results on ETS. In summary, COSPAS-SARSAT has developed, validated and approved revised and new international standards for testing emergency beacons that significantly improve the likelihood that these beacons will work as required in a real world emergency. These new and revised standards represent a huge step in a record short time for what has traditionally been a very conservative and slow to act organization, testament to both the hornet's nest the ETS Foundation stirred up and my efforts on these committees to push hard for significant improvements. While we didn't get everything we wanted, we got a great deal of the most critical changes passed and ongoing work and research is being done on further proposals for change.

Meanwhile, the RTCM SC110 committee continues work to revise their standards that are the basis for U.S. regulations, and a de facto world standard. Much of the work of the RTCM committee and supporting research and testing by NASA and NOAA went into the new and revised COSPAS-SARSAT standards, but much also remains to be done before the revised RTCM standards are completed, hopefully this year. Just this week I emailed to the committee a revised draft of proposed changes dealing with beacon labeling and instructions for users that will be discussed and likely finalized at our next meeting in February.

The proposed RTCM standards go significantly beyond those instituted by COSPAS-SARSAT, both because some aspects of beacon standards are reserved for the individual countries and because it is easier to deal with some contentious issues, such as minimum GPS performance, in a smaller committee with fewer international participants, a few of whom complicate some matters. We anticipate that the revised RTCM standards will result in some additional changes to the COSPAS-SARSAT standards. All these changes work to the benefit of the survivor who is depending upon these beacons to save their life, improving the likelihood that they will work in real world conditions.

I have also been invited by some of the common participants to get involved in the RTCA (Radio Technical Committee for Aviation, the aviation equivalent to RTCM) subcommittee now embarking on a similar project to update and revise standards for aviation emergency beacons (Emergency Locator Transmitters or ELTs). These revised standards will become the basis for revised U.S. FAA regulations governing these beacons.

Meanwhile, I continue to participate on the SAE S-9 Cabin Safety Provisions Committee and SAE S-9A Safety Equipment and Survival Systems Sub-committee developing enhanced safety and survival standards for transport category aircraft, airlines and general aviation. Among the critical work being accomplished on these committees are revised and significantly improved standards for Aviation Life Vests and Aviation Life Rafts which are approaching their finals stages of revision. In a week or so, as the "recorder" for this standard, I'll be forwarding to the S9A committee the first fully conformed draft of the life raft standard that we have been working on for a number of years. This is the first step towards final approval of the first major revision of this standard in decades. These revisions are based on the life raft tests and research performed by myself and ETS Foundation over the past decade that revealed serious deficiencies in many aviation life rafts. These revisions have proven difficult and frustrating because certain segments of the aviation industry are very resistant to any change that might have even a modest financial impact, regardless of the safety issues involved.

I am the only consumer advocate, the only person representing you, who participates on any of these standards committees, which typically involve only industry and government representatives. It is rare for anyone to speak up for the end user whose safety and life is at stake. Attending these meetings and working on these standards takes time and money. I am dependent upon contributions from supporters like you to enable me to continue these efforts. As you can see, your investment is producing excellent returns and I beg you to continue to support ETS Foundation with a significant financial contribution so that I can continue this work. You can make a donation here.

Doug Ritter presents Emergency Preparedness
Doug Ritter presents Emergency Preparedness
In other areas, ETS Foundation continues to move forward. This past year brought a host of tragic catastrophic natural disasters that have driven traffic to the Equipped To Survive Web site. There they find an ever-growing resource with independent reviews of survival gear and reliable, practical information on emergency preparedness.

Late this year we produced our first podcast, dealing with basic emergency preparedness, and it has been very well received. We plan to add new podcasts on a regular schedule in 2006. These podcasts allow us to reach a whole new audience who we might not otherwise engage.

We have continued to add additional product reviews and new product information to the site. A number of new reviews are currently in the works, including updates of major sections of the site.

The ETS Survival Forum provides a forum for the international exchange of survival information. We experience a surge in membership and participation this year as more people seek out advice and share their experience and knowledge. Volunteer Chris Cavanaugh continues his excellent performance as administrator of the forum, keeping peace when matters get too hot and helping newcomers. In 2006 we plan to open new sections based on requests from participants who appreciate the civil atmosphere we maintain.

This past year I provided survival education presentations at national aviation conferences, to the National Association for Search And Rescue and to NASA's Dryden Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. At the annual Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association convention, I had more than standing room only attendance and was asked to put on an encore presentation for all those turned away.

2005 DVDs featuring Doug Ritter
New DVDs featuring Doug Ritter and
Equipped To Survive
I consulted on and appear in a new FAA safety video that will be released this coming Spring dealing with survivability (crashes, ditching and survival). I also appear as one of four survival experts in a new video, "Prepared To Survive," that was introduced this Fall. In addition I consulted for the author of the recently released "Rough Guide To Travel Survival" which includes discussion of survival gear. In each of these instances I was able to provide valuable survival education and advice, encourage preparedness and promote the Equipped To Survive Web site to a new audience.

I continue to provided advice and information on survival equipment to troops embarking to the Middle East and to many life support personnel in the U.S. military.

After our 9-year-old server started to give us problems, we replaced it with a new (used) donated server mid-year and are working towards a better replacement to deal with the continued traffic increase.

Please support Equipped To Survive with a tax-deductible donationThis work is only possible because of generous support from the public, including many of you. Thanks again to all our contributors who recognize the value of the work we do and the tremendous value we provide for each dollar donated. Please give generously to help us continue our work. You can make a donation here.

Equipped To Survive Foundation's Form 990 for fiscal year 2004/2005 can be found on the ETS Foundation Home page.

Respectfully submitted,

Doug Ritter
Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation

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Executive Director: Doug Ritter
Email: Doug Ritter
URL: http://www.equipped.org/etsfi_2005_recap.htm
First Published on: December 28, 2005
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