All Norton Sound communities will receive devices, aiding in SAR operations
NOME—Thanks to a donation from Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation (NSEDC), search and rescue teams in the Norton Sound region will have a powerful new tool when trying to find lost or overdue parties when time is of the essence. To assist with Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, NSEDC donated sixteen FLIR BHS Bi-Ocular handheld thermal imaging cameras to its 15 member communities, plus Shishmaref.
The Alaska State Troopers are now distributing the devices to Village Public Safety Officers (VPSOs). For communities without a VPSO, the devices will be distributed to the local search and rescue groups. “These are a game changer,” said Alaska State Trooper Sergeant Charles Cross. “Up to this point, we (AST) have been equipped with one thermal imaging device for the entire region. With a camera in each community, SAR teams will have quick access to a superior and easy- to-function lifesaving device that will help in search efforts when our loved ones are missing.”
At their meetings in Unalakleet in May, the NSEDC Board of Directors voted to supply each community with the thermal imaging cameras to assist with Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. The donation totaled just more than $150,000. “If these devices save one life, the investment is worth it,” Board Chairman Dan Harrelson said. The FLIR thermal imaging camera detects radiation and temperature differences, allowing searchers to see a warm body in total darkness, as well as through smoke and light fog. The device is weatherproof, water resistant and operates down to -40F and can detect a person from 1 1⁄4 mile distance.
“We’d like to thank NSEDC for their contribution to the Alaska State Troopers, the communities and public safety,” Sergeant Cross said. “The department rarely receives contributions of this kind from private entities, and it shows NSEDC’s dedication to the public and residents of the region.”
The Alaska State Troopers responded to 31 reported incidents of missing persons in the past year from the Nome and Unalakleet posts. For more information on the impact the thermal imaging cameras will have on SAR operations, contact Trooper Sergeant Charles Cross at (907)443-5525.