Many Search & Rescue teams in Colorado are equipped with handheld RECCO detectors for avalanche rescue and searching for missing people, this being the first time the RECCO SAR Helicopter Detector system is operational in the State.
Colorado Highland Helicopters, based in Durango, is the seventh search and rescue organization to be operational in the USA with the RECCO SAR helicopter detector. The detector will be used to search for missing people in the outdoors year-round.
“Historically, this technology has been used by ski patrols or search and rescue teams to locate people who are buried in an avalanche that doesn’t have a transmitting (avalanche) transceiver on them. With the helicopter system, we’re now able to use this in really more of a four-season capacity,” said Dr. Tim Durkin, a sports and emergency medicine physician and RECCO rescue specialist with Colorado Highland Helicopters.
“RECCO was interested in what we were doing and looking for somebody in our location and specifically mentioned our region and the type of operation we have,” says Brandon Laird, Colorado Highland Helicopters chief pilot.
The RECCO SAR Helicopter Detector can quickly search large areas, covering 1 km2 within 6 minutes. Besides shortening search time, the helicopter-based detector can reduce the time and the exposure to risk for rescue workers during search missions.
“We are excited to for the first time be operational with the helicopter system in the State of Colorado. The Colorado Highland Helicopters is the perfect rescue partner for us, considering their wide experience and ability to cover a large part of the state,” says Fredrik Steinwall, CEO at RECCO.
RECCO rescue reflectors are commonly found in outdoor clothing and equipment, such as backpacks, hiking shoes and helmets. Other applications include climbing harnesses, where Black Diamond recently presented their first ever equipped Technician RECCO harness. The first hunting brand to integrate RECCO reflectors into their products in 2020 is FORLOH, an American company based in Whitefish, Montana.
"No one ever thinks they’re going to get hurt or lost, but it happens every week,” says Dayle Laird, critical care paramedic and co-owner of Colorado Highland Helicopters. “This really changes the ballgame.”
Currently there are 28 RECCO SAR Helicopter Detectors globally, with 10 in North America and 18 units deployed across Europe. The latest deployments include California Highway Patrol (USA), Vernon Search & Rescue (CAN) and a RECCO SAR helicopter detector based out of Abruzzo operated by Italy’s CNSAS.