Piedmont Triad first responders encourage others to download new app to help in case of search and rescue

Piedmont Triad News

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — The Summer months bring optimal weather to enjoy the lakes, rivers and state parks throughout the state. But with them also comes calls for help from stranded boaters, lost hikers and families in need of help.  

A Davidson County water rescue seargant has begun to encourage everyone with a smartphone to download a new app called What3Words.

“Without having an accurate location, you’re pretty much just driving until you find them,” explained Sgt. Travis Essic. 

On Thursday night, his team was called to an area of the Yadkin River where a boater was stranded without gas.

“You’re relying on headlights, and you can only see so far in front of you. At night, you have to be extra careful and go even slower,” Essic said.  

The operation, however, took less time than normal thanks to the What3Words app. 

The application lays out the globe in a grid pattern. Each few square meters is designated three different words that will always be associated with that spot.  

On Thursday’s search and rescue operation, crews were able to find a close enough access point to get to the exact three word location where the boater was.  

“Seconds save lives, and minutes save lives. But without an exact address, those minutes and seconds mean nothing,” Essic said.

He has been with the water rescue team for Davidson County for more than ten years. He explained that, in his area of expertise, this worked better than the traditional address or coordinate plug in.  

“There’s no address in the middle of the lake…I can very easily put one digit wrong for a coordinate and be way off versus this which is taking me right to it just based on three words,” he said. 

The application will also work if you’re on a trail, at a state park or simply walking through an unfamiliar city and need help.  

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