News from NZ Police
Waikato Police say some innovative technology developed by a Wellington company and now being trialled by emergency services is making all the difference in terms of finding persons lost in the bush.
District Search and Rescue Coordinator Constable David Pitchford said the call comes after the successful rescue of a 25-year-old Te Kuiti woman from a remote part of the Pureora Forest.
“The woman had entered the forest with her dogs on Sunday intending to go for a day walk. She had no supplies or warm clothing with her as she wasn’t expecting to be away for a prolonged period.
“After walking for about five hours the woman realised she was lost and using her Smart-phone, she rang 111. Because her phone is equipped with a GPS capability, responding Police and Search and Rescue volunteers were able to locate her within a few hours.”
Mr Pitchford said the speed in which the woman was found had a lot to do with a new application designed by a Wellington company known as Mobile Locate which has been trialled with emergency services for about eight months.
“The application accesses your GPS capability on your phone and relays it to the user, in this case the Police. This is the second such successful use of the programme by Waikato Police since its introduction and we understand other emergency services have had several successes as well.
“As well as enabling us to ensure the safety of missing person faster the Mobile Locate programme also reduces the hours during call outs that require the substantial contribution of volunteer Land Search and Rescue Teams.”
Mr Pitchford said no matter the type of search Police rely heavily on the contribution provided by these volunteers and the goodwill of their employers and families.
“Anything we can do to ensure a speedy and safe resolution of missing person incidents while also reducing the call on volunteers’ time is a real positive from the Police’s perspective.
“At the same time Police advise against going into the bush by yourself and even if you don’t intend staying overnight, consider taking warm clothing and provisions with you in case the unexpected happens. Obviously having a reliable form of communication such as a GPS capable Smart-phone is important as well but technology doesn’t always work and having some basic bush skills shouldn’t be disregarded.”