Monday, November 19, 2012

Merchant Shipping Gains another Aid to Successful Rescues

Precise Location of Crew Lost Overboard thanks to New Technology
Shipping News Feature

UK –WORLDWIDE - Merchant shipping interests will wish to know that maritime technology and training providers Marine Management Training and Security (MTS) and marine communications and navigational equipment specialists, Telemar UK, have launched a new personal locator beacon system, the individual position indicating rescue beacon (IPIRB), which will help locate and identify marine casualties more quickly in the hope that every effort can be concentrated more efficiently on rescue and saving lives. Dave Pressley, General Manager of Telemar Scotland which will be the distributor of the IPIRB in the UK, said:

“Any organisation that has employees crossing seas, either on the water or by air, needs the best equipment possible for locating people in the event of a disaster. In that unfortunate situation, and often against the elements, IPIRB will allow these organisations to pinpoint individuals and better coordinate a successful rescue.”

Over the years, search and rescue technology has developed to the point where the location of an incident at sea can be determined by on-board communications technology with reasonable accuracy. However, available technology does not allow pinpoint accuracy which is crucial when searching for an individual in the water, often in treacherous conditions. Wynne Edwards, managing director of Marine MTS, who developed the new technology system, commented:

“If you know exactly where everyone is in a mass casualty situation, vital time can be saved and every effort is immediately concentrated on their rescue. Fast arrival and action gives victims a far greater chance of survival. We developed IPIRB to deliver this level of accuracy in any situation where there are casualties in the water, whether having come from a helicopter or a boat. Working with satellite technology, we’ve made rescue at sea more precise, and therefore, survival more likely.”

Where help has been be summoned to the rough location of an incident, the system identifies the precise location of casualties within a search area, either on board a craft or crucially, in the water. Even unconscious casualties can be located, as the beacon is automatically activated on impact with the water. In the case when an incident results in multiple casualties, each can be located with absolute accuracy – reducing time in the water, and thereby increasing the chances of survival.

The IPIRB consists of a robust yet pocket sized automatic identification system – search and rescue transmitter (AIS- SART) which in combination with Loc8 and Microplot, both of which have been developed by Marine MTS, will aim to provide a unique and reliable way of locating and tracking marine disaster casualties.

The technology works by finding and tracking, for up to 96 hours, vital information of those who have abandoned ship or been lost overboard. The information includes an individual’s identity number, name, health issues, and exact GPS location which will be updated on a minute by minute basis if there is any change in position. All this data is then sent in real time to all AIS plotters to enable discovery of the casualty and hopefully result in a successful rescue.