Search and Rescue Location
Hundreds of thousands of walkers, climbers and mountaineers visit the UK hills & mountains each year. Unfortunately some of these people find themselves lost &/or injured when walking or mountaineering. This is where Mountain Rescue (MR) teams come in to help those outdoor enthusiasts in need - and they are volunteers. Sometimes it can be very tricky to find these injured or lost people, and this is where SARLOC (Search and Rescue Location) can assist the Mountain Rescue teams in finding them, by using the persons phone as a PLB (personal locator beacon).
Where Did SARLOC Come From?
SARLOC was first used in 2011 to find a lost person on Snowdon by the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team when communication was lost between the walker and MR. SARLOC was used to send a request to the persons phone to gain a grid reference of where they were and this was send out to a helicopter which then found the person. This method was designed by Russ Hore who was part of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue team and SARLOC was originally designed to track other members of Mountain Rescue (MR Map is used to track other team members instead, hence why SARLOC ended up being used for finding people on the hill).
How Does it Work?
When Mountain Rescue receives contact information regarding a lost or injured person, they use SARLOC to send that person a text message with a link for them to click. When clicked, this link allows SARLOC to gather the phones location data and send back to MR Map viewed by the Mountain Rescue teams.
If the person cannot click the link or there is no data and only SMS signal, then the persons phone number can be entered directly into MR Map to start SARLOC and put the persons location onto MR Map.
Why is This Useful?
SARLOC can be used in any weather condition at any time of the day or night which reduces the time spent searching for a person, and in some cases Mountain Rescue may not need to send someone out; sometimes the lost person can be sent to the nearest path once their location is confirmed. Simply put, SARLOC allows quick location and search of a person, saving lots of man hours.
Likewise, SARLOC is free of charge and is highly used by many rescue companies across the globe without an app needed on a casualties phone. Most location systems require an app to be already installed. Similarly, SARLOC works on almost all android and iphone smartphones as long as the location on the smartphone is turned on (luckily, if the location is turned off SARLOC will send a message to turn this on).
How Often is SARLOC Used?
Way over 300 hundred call outs in the UK have been dealt with using SARLOC to locate the person, often used multiple times to direct the person back onto a track without the need to send a Mountain Rescue Team member out onto the hill.
A final note is that SARLOC will not work if your phone is out of battery, so always make sure that your phone is fully charged before you head out onto the hill. SARLOC has been extremely useful to Mountain Rescue teams; if a person has phone signal they can be located within the minute saving lots of time and effort otherwise required to find someone without a mobile phone.
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