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High Tech Device Helps Save Hikers

If lightning doesn’t strike twice, do two SPOT devices initiate rescues at the same time in the middle of nowhere? Well, that happened on Thursday, July 23, 2009 in the mountains of Strathcona Park, British Columbia, Canada. Two separate sets of hikers were each found within about five kilometers of one another after activating their SPOT Messengers. Read the complete story published by the Comox Valley Echo by clicking Read More.


High-tech device helps save hikers

By Marcel Tetrault, Comox Valley Echo, July 28, 2009

It was a rare mountain rescue for the RCMP helicopter on Thursday.

But it wasn't just one rescue -- thanks to a satellite-tracking device, police were able to rescue two separate sets of hikers on the same day.

The hikers -- one group of three and a solo hiker -- were each found within about five kilometres of one another in the mountains of Strathcona Park after activating their Spot satellite messenger GPS devices.

"It's kind of bizarre in that huge country," said Comox Valley RCMP Spokesperson Const. Tammy Douglas, about the close proximity of the two rescues.

"For two to happen in one day, four people rescued safely because of this device, it kind of just goes to show you. I tell you, I don't think I'd be out there without one."

The RCMP helicopter was dispatched after the first locator beacon was detected on July 23.

The trip was to be the initial scouting mission to determine whether or not ground or air search-and-rescue crews should be called in.

"Because they had a GPS coordinate ... (the pilot) ended up just finding them on his own," said Douglas.

"He landed the helicopter and shut it down and then sort of yelled and ended up hearing these guys yelling way up on the mountaintop. He could see them from a distance and then he knew where to go to pick them up. It was a fairly precarious ledge there that he landed on."

The group, one adult male and two 13-year-old boys from Victoria, had spent the night atop the mountain after being unable to descend to their base camp the day before.

"They realized that, I think, going up was a lot easier than coming down," said Douglas. "They didn't have ropes or anything with them so they were unable to get back down."

Shortly after plucking the three males off the mountain and dropping them off in a nearby parking lot, a second locator beacon was detected east of Donner Lake.

A Nanaimo man had activated that beacon after five days of hiking. He had been unable to find the trail he was looking for and, once he realized he did not have enough food and supplies for the hike back, used the device to call 9-1-1.

The GPS Spot device has three buttons: check-in, ask for help, or dispatch 9-1-1.

The experienced hiker was soon located.

The incidents mark the first and second times that the local RCMP helicopter has been dispatched due to signals from GPS Spot devices.

Full link to article text found here.

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