New life-saving tracking beacon launched at Stonehaven MRI

New technology which locates and identifies marine casualties fast in order to rescue them has been showcased at a launch hosted by the Maritime Rescue Institute in Stonehaven.

The new iPIRB was launched by MarineMTS and Telemar UK Limited at the MRI event last Friday.

The launch was attended by marine industry operators including Taqa Bratani, Shell, Nexen, Marathon and Total as well as Grampian Police.

The new technology - iPIRB - which stands for Individual Position Indicating Rescue Beacon, is a neat, portable and reliable personal locator beacon system which completes the search and rescue circle by providing a hitherto unavailable layer of pinpoint rescue accuracy for maritime or helicopter operators.

Search and rescue technology has developed over the years to the point where the location of an incident at sea can be determined by on-board technology with reasonable accuracy.

However this kind of technology does not allow pinpoint accuracy which is crucial when searching for an individual in the water, often in treacherous conditions.

Wynne Edwards, Managing Director of Marine MTS, who developed the new iPIRB system said: “If you know exactly where everyone is in a mass casualty situation, vital time can be saved and every effort is immediately concentrated on their rescue. Fast arrival and action gives victims a far greater chance of survival.

“We developed iPIRB to deliver this level of accuracy in any situation where there are casualties in the water, whether having come from a helicopter or a boat. Working with satellite technology, we’ve made rescue at sea more precise, and therefore, survival more likely.”

Where help has been summoned to the rough location of an incident, the iPIRB identifies the precise location of the casualties within a search area and whether they’re on board a craft or in the water. As the beacon is automatically activated on impact with the water, unconscious casualties can also be located.

If an incident occurs where there are multiple casualties, each can be located meaning their time in the water is reduced and therefore increasing the chances of survival.

Wearers personal information, including medical conditions can be transmitted via the beacon to help prioritise rescue. Devices like these are currently used by the German Navy and the manufacturers hope they will soon be used within the Oil and Gas Industry.