Mountains, rescue technologies

The mountain rescue technologies are evolving rapidly. In the droneswhich have already been used successfully for some time, new systems are being added capable improving the identification of missing, injured and dead persons during an avalanche, as in the case of the Marmolada tragedy. Many of these technologies, including e-mountain bikes and electric stretchers to facilitate rescue, were tested during the Start (Test for Alpine Rescue Technology) project involving seven partners: Alpine Rescue Dolomiti Bellunesi Cnsas, Alpine Rescue Alto Adige Cnsas, Alpine Rescue Alpenverein Südtirol, Bergrettung Tirol, Noi Teckpark in Bolzano, University of Klagenfurt and Eurac Research.


The use of drones has brought significant advantages over helicopters. In fact, a drone does not depend on atmospheric conditions and can reach an impassable area faster. Thanks to his help thermal cameras It enables the detection of missing persons and avalanche victims by capturing the body’s own infrared radiation. The drones they can also carry packages containing radios, thermal blankets, first aid medicines, dropping them near where the subject is. In the case of heart attacks, which are still one of the most common causes of death in the high mountains, fibrillar drones it takes 15 to 20 minutes to reach the most remote areas.

Technologies for drones

In Switzerland, the use of a specific drone, theRGA-UAV-T1Awhich is provided with the Herringthe Swiss Air Rescue Guard, but which can also be supportive in Italy, along the border territories such as Piedmont, Aosta Valley and Lombardy. It is particularly useful in conditions of poor visibility and among the various sensors available it uses an artificial intelligence system called “Human Detection Pipeline“Which allows, through a smart algorithm, to identify people on the ground based on the real-time images of the thermal imager.

Among the systems provided for rescue drones, the latest innovation is called Seeker of life and is among the technologies tested by the Start project. It was developed and manufactured by Centum R&T, and is used to search for missing persons through the signal emitted by the mobile phone and also works in areas without network coverage. In addition to research and detection allows you to contact the missing person both through voice calls and sms. The system was tested by the Aiut Alpin Dolomites helicopter project.


Made by UK-based Gravity Industries, these reactor-embedded suits look like they’re straight out of a sci-fi movie. But he used them successfully Great North Air Ambulance Service (Gnaas), an English organization that provides emergency air services. Jetpack is powered by 5 turbines which develop 1065 horsepower for a maximum speed of 136 kilometers per hour and allow rescuers to reach a bumpy spot on the mountain in 90 seconds instead of 30 minutes.

The trackers

Systems are also used to locate missing persons, in case of dead mobile phones Recco And Artva, but which skiers must wear. If the Recco system, a plate formed by an antenna and a diode, already exists inside various models of skis, jackets, boots, backpacks and helmets, the Artva – a small electronic tool to be worn under the jacket – it is mandatory in many ski resorts. The Recco system can also use a sonar which, carried by helicopter, is able to pick up signal up to 80 meters away.

Trackers on smartphones

If it is missing in the mountains, it would be possible to locate it as soon as it is named single emergency number 112 thanks to technology Aml for iPhone and Els for Android smartphones. The conditional is necessary because in Italy it still doesn’t workdespite the European Union directive requiring it to be implemented by 2020. The embedded software is sent automatically latitude, longitude and altitude of the location.

Although they exist on Android operating systems since June 2006 and on iOS since March 2018, in Italy they cannot be used because there is no system capable of capturing the data sent by the mobile phone and forward them to the rescue service. However, the system is active in many European countries such as Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Slovenia and non-EU countries such as Norway, Iceland , Moldova, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, United States. The serious flaw was pointed out in 2019 when, precisely because of the lack of this system, it was not possible to immediately detect Simon Gauthierthe French hiker who fell off a cliff in Cilento and was found only after 9 days from his request for help.

SMS tracker

As an alternative to the Aml and Els systems in Italy, theSMS Tracker of the 112 service. A text message is sent to the 112 caller with a link which, once opened, transmits the coordinates to the control panel. Besides not being as accurate as Aml, the service not active in Veneto, since the district has not yet implemented the uniform number.

Instead, the service operates in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio (prefix 06-0774), Liguria, Lombardy, Marche, Piedmont, Sicily, Tuscany, Umbria, Valle d’Aosta and the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano. In these areas one is planned Single Response Central (Cur) which can also be used through the application “Where are you“With emergency call and automatic sending of the location to the operator via the mobile phone’s GPS system. You can use the app even if you can’t speak by selecting the rescue type. In Veneto by calling 112 the carabinieri answer.

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