OnStar might be pricey, but could pay off in a crisis

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A hurricane doesn't rattle Mary Ann Adams.

Every day is a crisis in her job at OnStar.

"I've been through a few hurricanes, wildfires, hazardous materials spills," said Adams.

Adams is OnStar's crisis incident manager in Detroit, and she has worked for OnStar for nearly 10 years.

Major natural disasters and other emergencies are probably when OnStar is most worth the $199 or $299 a subscriber pays each year for the service.

Especially if OnStar gets a subscriber out of a jam.

Take Hurricane Isaac this week.

Isaac barreled down on Louisiana while Adams was in Detroit with OnStar staff taking an onslaught of calls. Some people needed navigation out of the area, others without power wanted OnStar to provide weather updates, and some folks asked OnStar to phone loved ones.

But one call to OnStar yesterday required OnStar to contact local rescuers to help a woman near New Orleans who was trapped in her car with water rising all around her.

"We kept hearing the water rising in the background, and she was getting more and more frightened," says Adams, "It took a little while, but we did get confirmation that she was rescued."

But Mother Nature isn't the only threat to the peace that might make subscribers lean on OnStar.

"I also manage the presidential inauguration," says Adams. "This week we're working on the Republican National Convention in Tampa and next week the Democratic National Convention."

Said Adams: "Wherever there is a big event, there is always potential for a crisis."

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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