GPS aids in rescue of four tourists

Four tourists were rescued Monday southwest of Tatlayoko Lake after sending out a 911 distress signal through their GPS locator.

  • Sep. 15, 2011 7:00 p.m.

Four tourists were rescued Monday southwest of Tatlayoko Lake after sending out a 911 distress signal through their GPS locator.

Shortly before 10 a.m. on Sept. 13, the Alexis Creek RCMP received a phone call from the International Emergency Response Coordination Centre in Texas of a 911 GPS personal locator call in the area of Mount Lawwa, a remote location southwest of Tatlayoko Lake in the Homathko River Tatlayoko Protected Area.

Police say the initial information was that an Austrian citizen carrying a personal GPS locator set off the distress 911 signal.

The centre advised the 911 button is not easy to push as it takes the removal of a cap of some kind to push the 911 distress button.

After checking the area map via the Internet and realizing there was no way a vehicle could get to that location, the RCMP called the Provincial Emergency Program and search and rescue was dispatched with a helicopter and Emergency Health Services on board.

A second 911 signal was received by the centre, showing slightly different GPS co-ordinates, which indicated the GPS personal locator was in the Homathko River.

The GPS locators are accurate to within three metres, the Alexis Creek RCMP note.

Once in the area of the search, search and rescue manager Alan Chaud made local inquiries discovering there were four Austrian or German tourists who had been dropped off to kayak the Homathko River and had arranged to be picked up on Thursday at a pre-arranged pickup location.

At 1:40 p.m. search and rescue advised four persons had been located in the area of the GPS coordinates and appeared uninjured.

The terrain was such that a hand-held radio was lowered to the group and the Rescue Coordination Centre was contacted through the RCMP to extract the four adults.

The Alexis Creek RCMP say this involves the use of military aircraft and extraction equipment to air lift the four persons out of the area.

Police add the Homanthko River is known to be treacherous.

The terrain is also very rough and the outcome could have been much worse.

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