Feb 17 2012 by Donald Morton, Stirling Observer Friday
RESCUE work on Trossachs hills and mountains has been given a boost.
Killin Mountain Rescue Team has become the first Scottish team to invest in hand-held, infra-red cameras from Infrared Security Solutions Ltd from Nottingham following successful field trials earlier this year.
Searching for missing persons during darkness is one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks mountain rescue teams carry out and it is hoped the infra-red cameras will help save lives.
It is relatively common for people to get lost and find themselves in difficulty, often without a torch or any means to signal for help. Seriously injured climbers are often unable to call for help. And in winter hypothermia is a big risk if people are not found relatively quickly.
Rescue team co-ordinator Bill Rose said: “It is very frustrating at night to know that someone is out on the hills, but due to weather conditions, they cannot be seen.
“Current line search techniques by torchlight take considerable manpower resources and a long time to cover ground. Search dogs are invaluable in such circumstances, but cannot cover all potential search areas at one time.
“Infra-red cameras will allow them to be utilised more effectively.”
Infra-red cameras detect body heat and can work in rain and misty conditions where conventional torches and night vision equipment is not effective.
The cameras work very similar to that currently in use by police and military helicopters to carry out aerial searches.
Bill added: “Infra-red cameras have come on a long way in recent years, and are now relatively compact, no larger than a large pair of binoculars. They have for a number of years been used worldwide in military applications. They are now becoming affordable and available to civilian search and rescue organisations.”
With a range of more than two kilometres the hand-held cameras allow large areas of hillside to be searched quickly and efficiently in a short space of time, providing a facility to check steep dangerous rocky ground at night, or avalanche prone slopes without putting rescue team members at risk.
The cameras can also detect a person hidden by trees and bushes and have considerable potential in identifying the location of a climber in need of assistance.
Callander Community Council supported Killin Mountain Rescue Team and provided match funding for the purchase of the cameras realising the benefit they would provide in helping people who all too often find themselves in difficult and life threatening situations in the hills around this popular tourist destination
“It is important that rescue teams look at any development that can improve the speed at which we can bring about a successful result in a mountain rescue incident,” said Bill.
“Infra-red cameras are another tool to add to the search box and Killin Mountain Rescue Team are confident that they will justify their purchase on many occasions when we are trying to trace someone in difficulty.”