Search and rescue operations take a lot of hands. Teams are made of firefighters, law enforcement personnel, and sometimes civilian volunteers. One Florida city has devised a successful system to streamline search and rescue operations.
Time Makes All The Difference
In Jacksonville, Florida, police officers and firefighters are getting a leg up on search and rescue with the help of a new process and some technology. The system speeds up the time it takes to get people out searching and uses drones, helicopters, and fire engines.
So far, the new procedures have helped search and rescue locate 13 out of 15 missing adults and children, according to Jacksonville city officials. The program was unveiled as a joint effort by Sheriff Mike Williams, Fire Chief Keith Powers, and May Lenny Curry.
The system is only in Jacksonville for now. The system quickly alerts employees from both the fire department and the police department and sends them, plus the equipment, to find the missing person.
“When you have an endangered or missing person or small child, it is time-sensitive. The quicker you can get people on the ground, searching in those wood lines and trying to cover those lakes is incredibly important.”Sheriff Mike Williams
How It All Works
According to Powers, “When the program is activated for a missing or endangered person, the fire department’s dispatchers send alerts to all firefighter emails as well as computer terminals in fire engines to “get out there early and get on the streets.”
So far, officers and firefighters have been deployed many times to look for adults and children who have gone missing.
“We dispatch to the companies surrounding the last known area of where the missing person was. We flood that area with apparatus riding up and down the streets. The two last two that were successful that’s how they were found.”Fire Chief Keith Powers
Helping Where Needed Most
In 2019, 150 officers and firefighters located missing siblings, Braxton, and Bri’ya Williams, lost in a swampy wood. The team looked at 430 homes, woods, and 20 bodies of water in a span of 130 acres until they found the children.
The program was also used to find an autistic 5-year-old boy. The team found him in a pond after a two-hour search involving 32 officers and 48 fire and rescue personnel.
While that search ended tragically, increased use of this program will hopefully bring about more happy endings.