NOAA Satellites Aided 263 Rescues in 2012

These seven satellites are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, called Cospas-Sarsat.

The seven NOAA weather and climate satellites were involved in the rescues of 263 people during 111 mergencies in the United States and surrounding waters last year, according to the agency, which said the satellites also tracked Hurricane Sandy last October.

They circle the globe or sit above the United States and carry instruments to detect distress signals from emergency beacons carried by downed pilots, boaters in distress, and stranded hikers. The satellites are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, called Cospas-Sarsat.

"NOAA satellites were instrumental in emergency situations," said Chris O'Connors, program manager for NOAA SARSAT. "Our ability to pick up a distress signal, isolate the location within 100 yards, and initiate the appropriate rescue response definitely saves lives." Among the 263 people who were rescued last year, 182 were rescued from the water, 22 from aviation incidents, and 59 from situations on land where they used Personal Locator Beacons. NOAA said the rescue highlights in 2012 included:

  • Alaska had the most rescues with 45, followed by 38 in North Carolina and 25 in Florida.
  • 14 people were rescued from the tall ship HMS Bounty more than 200 miles off the North Carolina coast.
  • Three people were rescued after their sailboat rolled in heavy waves off the San Francisco coast.
  • In the Gulf of Mexico, five people were pulled to safety when their fishing boat began taking on water.
  • Seven were rescued 400 miles west of Honolulu after their fishing boat caught fire.
  • A Boy Scout troop on a canoe trip in Yuma, Ariz., activated its PLB for its scout leader, who was having a medical emergency.

The SARSAT Mission Control Center at NOAA's Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md., is alerted when one of the satellites receives a distress signal. The information goes to a Rescue Coordination Center operated by the U.S. Air Force for land rescues or the U.S. Coast Guard for rescues at sea.

Since Cospas-Sarsat began in 1982, it has aided more than 30,000 rescues worldwide, including 6,999 in the United States and its surrounding waters. Those who own a SARSAT device are required to register it with NOAA, a process that can be done online. More than 37,000 new registrations were completed in 2012, a record number for a single year.

Download Center

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • COVID Return-to-Work Checklist, Fall 2021

    Use this checklist as an aid to help your organization return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe and healthy manner.

  • SDS Buyer's Guide

    Learn to make informed decisions while searching for SDS Management Software.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Industry Safe

Featured Whitepapers

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2021

    November December 2021

    Featuring:

    • GAS DETECTION
      How to Streamline Gas Detector Maintenance
    • OSHA TOP 10
      OSHA's Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for FY 2021
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      How PPE Can Help You Deal with the Harsh Condition of Winter
    • HEARING PROTECTION
      Tackling Hearing Protection in the Workplace
    View This Issue