Satellite tracking skills enhance search efforts

Waikato Youth Search and Rescue (YSAR) is recruiting 14 to 18-year-olds able to make a significant contribution during search operations.

The interest and aptitude shown in satellite tracking software by young people selected for search and rescue training is paying major dividends in the Waikato.

The YSAR training programme is mostly about how to navigate and survive in the bush but training also includes a two-day course that shows recruits how to use the latest computer technology.

This technology includes mapping software, portable radio repeaters, live tracking and satellite systems.

Each member must pass a comprehensive half-day assessment two weeks after the course to become operational. They are then issued with a pager which will alert them to every call-out of the Hamilton Search and Rescue Group.

Of the 20 members who joined YSAR in February last year, half have a pager.

This is a huge achievement for the teenagers who eagerly look forward to the next search.

YSAR spokesman Barry Were says it has been found through experience that the teenagers are very good at operating the complex software and systems used by modern SAR groups.

"We are constantly impressed at how quickly our young recruits manage to grasp how the latest technology works. Whereas older people seem to forget after a few months if they don't get to use the equipment or computer programmes too often, our young recruits are able to stay right on top of it."

YSAR Hamilton recruits from Hamilton and the satellite towns around the city, including Te Awamutu and Cambridge. It limits its intake to about 20 recruits annually to ensure the highest level of training can be provided.

The YSAR programme requires a significant commitment to learn the skills through weekly training sessions, plus camps every second or third weekend.

Any 14 to 18-year-olds interested in joining YSAR can contact Barry Were at

- Hamilton News

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