Capsized Kayaker Rescued With Advanced GPS Technology


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When rescuers in Baldwin County, AL received a 911 call, they were tasked with the unique problem of locating an individual floating in Mobile Bay. “He somehow overturned his kayak,” dispatcher Christian Mitchell told WPMI-TV. “He was not wearing a lifejacket, or any other flotation device. All he had was a cooler and his phone.”

Fortunately for the stranded caller, Baldwin County recently started using Rapid SOS and What3Words GPS technology. This new system can convert a phone’s coordinates into a specific 3-word address, allowing rescuers to zoom in on a location. 

Fort Morgan’s Volunteer Fire Chief Craig Rohman recruited a local fishing boat captain to take him out to sea in search of the kayaker. “At one point we were within 50 yards and couldn’t see him because of the conditions in the water,” said Rohman. “But using the What3Words app, we were able to pinpoint his location.” The man, an unnamed visitor from Kansas, was found and safely rescued.

“All of our training kicked in and everybody worked together,” said Baldwin County 911 Deputy Director Dan Wright, “The first responders did exactly what they were supposed to do. When everything works right, we’re able to save lives.” 

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