Getting to a rescue site in the least possible time is one of the vital elements of a successful rescue, and it's new technology that is helping the U.S. Coast Guard do their jobs by taking the 'search' out of search-and-rescue missions.
Rescue 21 system - saving lives through its GPS ability
The new system called Rescue 21 gives emergency responders the exact GPS coordinates of where emergency calls are coming from.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Ronald Rabago, of San Diego Coast Guard where Rescue 21 is in operation, says, 'People are alive today because of this system.'
In San Diego alone, the Coast Guard averages about 3,000 to 4,000 search-and-rescue cases a year, and they save about 5 to 6 lives a week.
Coast Guard Capt. Thomas Farris said the system 'reduces significantly the search, therefore getting us there quicker and if you are treading water, that is going to be a big difference.'
Arizona-based General Dynamics C4 Systems, who developed the system, said it will be the primary emergency system for the more than 78 million boaters and 13 million vessels that navigate the waters.
The Coast Guard said the entire system costs about $1 billion, which is paid for by taxpayers. However, Coast Guard officials said it would replace outdated and obsolete technology.
'Before, we would fly helicopters, we would have to sail ships and boats in large search areas, which was expensive and put the mariner that was in distress at risk,' said Rabago.
Rescue 21 will also help filter suspected hoax calls so the Coast Guard can conserve resources and eliminate unnecessary responses.