SARFOS - Search And Rescue Forward Operation Support System
Mountain search and rescue in the Alps of Austria and Switzerland is a prominent and challenging example of emergency response tasks. Significant numbers of search and rescue operations are carried out every year. In Switzerland, the "Alpine Rettung" in 2001 served 12'739 mission hours in 431 missions. Of these, 8'193 hours were spent on search missions. 17'229 members served a total of 40'720 hours. Operating in small teams, rescue personnel have to be coordinated overlarge areas, often in rough terrain and adverse weather conditions. Additional assets like helicopters or reconnaissance planes are called in on demand. Operations control typically used a mobile command post (car or van), that is driven close to the area. Due to the number of such tasks and complexity of operations, often with human lives at stake, there is significant demand for assistance by state-of-the-art technology. Key tasks of support are, on the one hand, position, situation and intent reporting of field teams to operations control. On the other hand, operations control needs to forward to field teams operational orders and assistance information, e-g- actual visual or thermal overhead imagery. Thus, there is an important need to exchange data between field teams and operations control ! The purpose of the SARFOS project is to develop a so-called forward emergency response coordination and communication system using a combination of latest technology in the field of integrated satellite and terrestrial communication, navigation and information databases. The answer to the demand identified during requirements analysis is to define, implement and finally demonstrate a prototype system, designed especially for and in cooperation with key mountain rescue services.