What the heck is going on?
The SAR command post (CP) tracks team coverage of search areas on a map AFTER the teams return and the data is downloaded from the tracker units. The new goal is to be able to additionally track where members are, as close to real time as possible – such as when a member arrives at a designated area or when a position needs to be sent immediately to the CP (i.e. something is found).
Example1: should the Sheriff come by the command post and want to know where teams are, we can point to the status map and say Team 1 has started here … k9 Team 3 is working here … etc.
Example 2: if evidence/deceased are located, the GPS coordinates of the location can immediately be sent to the CP for the appropriate response.
We’ll be having a “virtual” training session that will focus on members using their cell phone to send their GPS location (coordinates!) to the CP in the proper manner. While there are several ways to send this information, we found out that people are not really sure what to send. During the last training session, the CP received several pretty pictures and screen shots with trailing lines – but no numbered coordinates.
This virtual training will cover using a simple/free/ad-free app for Android users and the iPhone compass feature for Apple users to send the GPS coordinates to the CP in a text message. We’ll take that data and place it on a training map. Training will be an open type/self-study open to complete for about 48 hours so that members can send the data when it is convenient on their end. If you have a system that sends the info needed, formatted properly and by text message, then feel free to use it. Goal here is to get the data to the command post.
Aren’t there systems that provide real-time tracking?
Sure and almost all cost money that we don’t have. Google maps actually does have a system that allows for real time tracking but the setup can be confusing and relies on data coverage that may not be available. Same for their “drop a pin” feature.
Isn’t cell phone coverage limited in many areas?
Yes, but the system/techniques we will be using does not require a data connection. By not relying on internet data, cell phone coverage is greatly multiplied. Additionally, the GPS data is obtained directly by the phone from the satellites and not the internet. In sending the GPS location to the CP by text message, a clear voice signal is not required which also increases coverage area. All modern cell phones have GPS capability.
Is the training going to be on a specific date/time? I may not be able to attend – what if I am working?
This training is virtual (online based) that you will be able to do, at your convenience, over a period of 48 hours. It can be completed at home, at work, in a car … wherever. As long as you can read the instructions online and send the required text then you will pass and meet the requirements. Speaking of requirements – if you missed the mandatory training on 11/14, completing this virtual training will meet your semi-annual training requirement.
*** Further details will be posted on our website and a notice on when it starts will be made through the call out system and by email.