Calling for help early saves lives

Buntzen task may 20 2013Yesterday my SAR team was called to rescue three stranded hikers near Buntzen Lake. Global News covered the story.

The location software they are referring to is YourLo.ca/tion, a prototype I whipped up based on some ideas myself and another SAR member (Tom Z) had regarding how to locate people via their GPS-equipped smart phones.

However, I’d like to stress that this rescue went so well because the guys called for help early in the process.

Of course it was not so early that we could get them out of there before night fell, but it was early enough that we could spot them from the air, and drop equipment to them. In addition, because they knew we were on the way with a helicopter, they decided to move to a place where they were more easily visible — also a very good move. They had some additional food, water, clothing and a radio. We were able to talk to them, and even though it took rescuers 5 hours to reach their position, they knew we were on the way.

I wrote the location service to assist, and in this case I believe it did two things very well aside from the obvious ability to get their coordinates;

  • Convey the message that help was coming.
  • Let them know it was a helicopter so they could react accordingly.

The service has the capability of conveying a large amount of information about the rescue process and what to expect. The question to the SAR readers of this blog, is should this capability be expanded upon? Should we add a feature to create a template message to send to the subjects of a search?

I would love to hear your feedback.

 

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One comment on “Calling for help early saves lives
  1. Russ Hore says:

    A similar system called SARLOC has been in use in the UK since 2011. See http://sarloc.russ-hore.co.uk/ for success stories.

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