BRIDGETOWN - The people who find people lost in the woods just got some new high-tech gear to aid in the search.
Sunday evening, Jan. 7, Annapolis County Ground Search and Rescue opened a couple of boxes packed with new hand-held GPS units and software that gives them up-to-date maps.
The team’s president Marc Sproule opened one of the boxes and pulled out one of the units and soon the rest of the searchers were gathered around to take a look.
The $6,500 worth of equipment was bought with help of the provincial Emergency Service Provider Fund that chipped in $5,218.13. The local search group paid the rest.
The money bought 17 Garmin GPSmap 64s hand-held units, plus the Atlantic Canada maps software to go with them.
“What these units are is GPS units that we can program on the bus with individual search areas for the team,” said search director Kent Moluneaux. “Each team is provided one of these GPS (units), we program it for the area they’re going to search. It takes them there accurately and when they come back we can actually download where they went in the search area and compare it with where we sent them to and calculate area coverage and where we need to put searchers back in the area or not, or what wasn’t covered.”
Moluneaux said every time the units go out they’re reprogrammed.
“If we have two pieces of woods we want to catch, we send Task 1 to the eastern woods first, they come back, we download the GPS, we can reprogram it for the western woods and send out another team with the same unit. As they come back we download it, report it ‘Task 1 travelled here, Task 2 travelled here’ and we can look at it on our map and see how the area was covered.”
The Garmins are based on satellite signal, not cellular signal, so unlike apps on cell phones, these units can be used anywhere.
“From a team perspective we’re going from having eight GPS to 17 so we’ll be able to put more manpower in the woods,” said the group’s Hilton Seymour.
At almost $400 a pop, the Garmin GPSmap 64s units are the real deal with a three-axis compass, a 2.6-inch sunlight-readable colour screen, and a barometric altimetre.
“We’re happy to get it,” said Molyneaux. “We appreciate the support and it will better enable us to track where our searchers are and whether we need to send people out again. It will enable us to more effectively use the resources we have.”
The objective of the Annapolis County Ground Search and Rescue is to assist civil authorities in the search for and rescue of any person or persons lost in Annapolis County. They also provide the community with assistance to any other groups when requested. The team's services include aiding local police authorities in civil emergencies and evidence searches, as well as wilderness survival and safe outdoor recreation education courses for all ages.