McGowan Environmental Engineering Ltd

Photograph showing earth digger and truck undertaking site preparation, courtesy of McGowan Engineering.


SOS is a vital function of Trackplot’s remote lone worker monitoring system and is one of the primary reasons why customers choose the solution. The SOS escalation can be triggered in a life-threatening medical emergency.

McGowan specialises in environmental engineering and is based in the Highlands of Scotland. Employees frequently work in remote, rural locations and chose the Trackplot system to keep staff safe.

The business critical issue

The SOS alarm was raised at 09.53 by a group of McGowan employees, who were working in a remote part of the company site, when they unfortunately discovered the body of a missing walker from the local area.

Ross Smith, Director at McGowan Environmental Engineering Ltd commented, “McGowan Environmental Engineering Ltd work frequently in remote, rural locations and to safeguard our employees we use Trackplot. On the 10th Oct 2019 the SOS button was activated by an employee on a remote Peatland Restoration Site near Roy Bridge (Highland). Within 15 minutes an emergency services helicopter was on-site and recovered the body of a deceased walker.”

“Through this experience our staff and management are reassured that, if needed, the Trackplot system alerts the emergency services who can respond extremely quickly and exactly where required.”

Ross Smith

Director at McGowan Environmental Engineering Ltd

How Trackplot helped

On raising the alarm the SOS escalation procedure began. By 10.01 GEOS (Global Emergency Operating System) in Houston, USA received the SOS message by satellite into their secure call centre. The call centre established that the location of the SOS was in the UK and despatched an alert to ARCC (Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre) to start the emergency response. In tandem whilst this was happening the call centre also contacted the nominated Emergency Contacts at McGowan Ltd to verify if the SOS was real or a false alarm.

On confirmation that this was a true SOS further details were gathered to brief the emergency services as fully as possible of the situation. Approximately 15 minutes after the SOS alarm was raised a helicopter landed on-site supported by the police.

Outcomes for McGowan Environmental Engineering Ltd

The McGowan site had very limited mobile phone reception, indeed one of the employees had tried to send a text message to the main office to request help, but it was not delivered until after the emergency services arrived.

Despite living in an age when the mobile phone dominates, the incident demonstrated that the mobile network cannot be solely relied upon as a guaranteed method of communication in an emergency, especially in rural and remote locations.

The immediacy and rigour of the Trackplot system and the effectiveness of the SOS escalation procedures deployed confirmed to McGowan employees they can rely and trust in the system knowing that help is on its way. Although the incident had a sad ending and nothing could be done this time to save a life it is reassuring to know the SOS escalation works effectively ensuring a response as quickly as possible.

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