SEARCH and rescue teams are getting new high-tech equipment to make finding missing people easier.
About 30 dog handlers from the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) will be presented with digital mapping and satellite positioning equipment at Sowerby Bridge on March 27.
SARDA handlers and their dogs are visiting the town for a training weekend, which will feature dogs being winched in and out of an RAF Sea King helicopter.
Search and rescue teams have been using dogs on missions for 30 years.
The dogs' keen sense of smell, coupled with maps, compasses and global positioning system (GPS) units have a high success rate of finding missing people.
GPS allows rescuers to find out their exact position using satellites.
The new equipment will make GPS even more useful. A Hewlett Packard IPAQ 1940 hand-held computer and digital mapping system will link up to a Holux GR230 GPS unit to allow rescuers to plot a route to follow in advance.
As the rescuer moves along, the hand-held computer and GPS unit `talk' to each other and record the route the rescuer has taken. At the end of the search, rescuers can check that they have fully covered the intended search area.
Both the high-tech units are encased in a watertight and shockproof Otterbox cover.
The equipment has been sponsored by Holux UK and Otterbox, meaning SARDA rescue volunteers only have to pay £100 for the kit, instead of £500.
SARDA dog handler Dave Warden, a volunteer with Calder Valley Mountain Rescue Team, which provides search dogs for the Huddersfield area, said the new equipment would be invaluable.
He said: "GPS on its own is almost old hat now, but the new equipment gives us facilities we have not so far had.
"Having the interactive map will be the biggest bonus. It will be very useful for us."