Technology helps rescue crews locate and recover accident victim - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Technology helps rescue crews locate and recover accident victim

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Recent technology played a big role in Tuesday's rescue and safe recover of a 43-year-old Sioux Falls man who crashed his vehicle into a ravine. 

Around five on Tuesday evening, 911 dispatchers received a call from the man's wife, saying her husband was disoriented, but had crashed into a tree and had no idea where he was. 

Dispatchers were then able to call the victim and had him to dial into 911 so they could figure out his location. But like most 911 callers, Tuesday's accident victim was not calling from a land line. 

"Most callers today have cell phones and when you call from your cell phone we don't get the exact location," said Metro Communications Operations Manager Jen Disburg. 

But recent technology and FCC regulations are helping dispatchers locate cell phone users in these kinds of emergency situations. 

"When you call from your cell phone, we know what your cell phone number is, but we actually get the location of the cell tower, so cell phone companies are required to provide the GPS coordinates to us," said Disburg. 

Those coordinates help narrow down an area for rescue crews to search.  Tuesday night, dispatchers were able to narrow down an area about 100 meters from the victim. 

"We were dispatched to this area and on our arrival, we found a Yukon that had driven off an approximately 60 degree embankment and was pinned against a tree," said Battalion Chief Travis Thom with Sioux Falls Fire and Rescue. 

After locating the victim, rescue crews were able to bring him to safety using the latest recovery techniques. 

"They did a couple of different things, first they used a winch on the rescue truck to stabilize the vehicle," said Captain Josh Smith with Sioux Falls Fire and Rescue. 

Earlier that day, the same rescue crews were watching YouTube videos, reviewing some of the techniques they ended up using at the ravine scene. 

"There's a lot of different departments or academies that have either done training that they've recorded or actual events that they've recorded and then they went ahead and posted them on YouTube," said Smith. 

Sioux Falls Fire and Rescue also reviews video from their own training courses and rescues.

"We mainly use them for in house training and then we can go back and look at the things we did right or wrong and correct them and improve those," said Smith. 

As technology continues to improve with cell phone GPS locators and the Internet opens up more means of sharing and communication among rescue crews, the improvements will be even more pronounced down the road with faster response times and more efficient recoveries.

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