Nunavut to hand out 500 emergency satellite trackers

Spot GPS message device linked to GN Blackberries

By JANE GEORGE

The Government of Nunavut will hand out 500 of these Spot satellite GPS messenger devices to communities so hunters will be able to signal their distress and searchers will be able to find them more quickly and easily. (PHOTO FROM FINDMESPOT.COM)


The Government of Nunavut will hand out 500 of these Spot satellite GPS messenger devices to communities so hunters will be able to signal their distress and searchers will be able to find them more quickly and easily. (PHOTO FROM FINDMESPOT.COM)

Blackberries and GPS satellite messengers will help keep track of hunters on the land and assist search and rescue teams in Nunavut, said Lorne Kusugak, the minister of community and government services, who announced that all communities will receive 20 Spot satellite GPS messengers each.

If a hunter gets into trouble, they can press a button on one of devices, and it will send a message saying if they need help or if they’re okay, Kusugak said in the Nunavut legislature.

Spot messengers can also send an SOS message or customized message, and allow contacts to track a user’s location.

Messages sent from Spot locations will go to three emergency services officials with Blackberries in Iqaluit, Kusugak said.

The messages received on the Blackberries, which combine cell phone and internet technology, will allow officials to contact search and rescue parties to let them know exactly where a message is coming from and what it says, Kusugak said.

There will be somebody always assigned to at least one of the Blackberries at any given time, Kusugak said.

“There will always be a Blackberry on to answer the distress call. Hopefully, there will be none, but should they happen, yes, there will be somebody there at the other end of the Blackberry,” Kusugak said.

Last year, Nunavut search and rescue teams responded to 125 requests for assistance, with search-and-rescue volunteers spending more than 2,000 person hours.

“With the use of this new technology, we hope to reduce the time required to locate lost persons, and respond faster and more efficiently to the need for assistance,” Kusugak said March 9 when he announced 500 of the Spot messengers will be distributed among Nunavut communities.

Each community will receive 20 of the units, with 15 available for members of the community to borrow when they go out on the land.

Five of the Spot messengers will be set with a tracking function to be used by search and rescue teams.

Spot messengers will made available through local search and rescue committees, at their office or the hamlet office, Kusugak said.

Hunters will be able sign out Spot messengers and must return them after completion of their hunt so somebody else can use them, Kusugak said.

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