Technology can help advance the ‘search’ in search and rescue

Dear editor,

Two things I consider quite unenviable are:

1) being buried alive by an avalanche with the knowledge that you have around one hour to survive, and

2) Informing a family that every second counts and you’re calling the ’search’ off until the next morning, as they did for Michel (Trudeau). The fact is, avalanche searches are often called off prior to dark for safety sake. Hence they quickly turn into recovery missions; this needs to change.

I am once again calling on our government, universities and tech institutes to hold a contest to design robotic ‘mapping’ vehicles such as programmable rovers, as well as flying drones, to swiftly scan the slide area and report back with the exact positions of victims equipped with (radio beacon) avalanche transceivers.

In this way we can take the search out of search and rescue. And this will save a lot of time allowing the rescuers to identify the best approach to the situation, day or night; if any.

In time we may be able to identify the slide occurrence of major areas, but also employ ground penetrating radars (from space) to reveal a person’s whereabouts.

As it stands, a few of the newer personal devices such a spot beacon will likely evolve into highly sophisticated assistants.

However, for now, something like a tiny portable flying drone capable of making high speed passes over an active slide zone would be quite the advantage.

Brent Townsend

Comox Valley


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