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IPFS News Link • Off Grid Living - Survival Prepping

Thermos-sized survival beacon launches SOS balloon 150 feet overhead

•, By C.C. Weiss

Swiss startup Airmarker delivers that type of added safety layer in a bid to help both wilderness adventurers and search and rescue (S&R) teams. Its all-new survival beacon sends up a visual signal that lasts much longer than a flair and works regardless of cellular or satellite coverage. It rises above trees, peaks and cliffs, where it can identify a victim's location from the ground and air.

The Swiss seem to love themselves some bright-orange mountain rescue balloons. The minute I spotted the all-new Airmarker, it transported my mind back 12 years to one of my first articles here at New Atlas, then Gizmag. It concerned a device called the Rotauf MRK5, an avalanche safety gadget that auto-inflated an orange balloon attached to the user via a rope. The balloon was designed to float atop the snow, even if the skier was buried by the avalanche, with the intent of saving invaluable minutes when locating and digging out the victim, helping boost their chances of survival.

Airmarker's balloon floats in the air, not snow, but is designed with the same motivation: Shave time off of victim location to improve their survival chances. It might seem redundant in that aforementioned world of cellular and satellite comms and simple alternatives like emergency whistles, lights, Recco reflectors and flares, but Airmarker co-founder and CEO Rico Dürst doesn't think so.

Dürst spent many hours in the cockpit of a helicopter searching for missing and injured persons on the ground. A helicopter might make it easier to cover a lot of ground quickly, but it's certainly not easy to pick out a person on the ground from high above, even if you're lucky enough to have a general idea where to look. And good luck hearing a whistle over the thundering chatter of chopper blades.

Dürst repeatedly found himself squinting desperately from that chopper cockpit, thinking: "If only this lost, injured person was holding onto something as simple as a balloon, they'd be on board and headed back to safety."