It also allows the team to offer help with searches anywhere in the country, without leaving Virginia
Time is critical in the search for a missing person.
Every second that goes by can determine whether search and rescue teams find that person alive or dead.
“It's a combination of a puzzle and looking for the needle in the haystack,” says Laura Dodson, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Blue Ridge Mountain Rescue Group.
The 40-year-old organization now has a state of the art system called ArcGIS
“A sheriff can call us about a missing woman and we can pull it up here in our office space, provide analysis, provide task assignments, and send it back to the sheriff,” Dodson says.
That process used to take days. Now it takes only hours.
BRMRG says the new technology can show where a person is likely to be in two, five or ten hours so that search efforts can focus on those areas.
The customized system analyzes topographical maps, trails, and watersheds.
“It looks at multiple incidents and comes up with statistical areas of where 25 percent of all subjects are found, fifty percent and 90 percent,” she says.
It can generate maps to guide search efforts and create task lists for individual crew members.
“One of the things we can run that we were never able to do before is mobility analysis,” Dodson says. “It takes the person where he was missing from and how far he could have gone.”
The team has put the technology to work leading searches in other parts of Virginia.
“We think it is a fantastic way to provide help in the beginning of a search,” Dodson says.
BRMRG has already used the new technology remotely. It managed one search in southern Virginia from Charlottesville.
For more information about the group, click here.
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