The Technological factors affecting the Rescue Services
There are affected directly by the improvements made to their equipment be it helicopters launches or RIB’s. The advancements in technology which have been made in their kit have allowed them to carry out rescue operations with a higher success rate but more importantly with a greater degree of safety to the rescuers.
The service is affected indirectly by the technology that is available to the people who are rescued. The advent of things like GPS, Radar and VHF and their availability to yacht sailors (who account for the majority of people that are rescued) has helped to reduce the dangers, and therefore the need for the rescue services to be called out, to yacht sailors (provided it is used properly).
The improvements in manufacture techniques have led to things like GPS and Radar being cheap enough for the average yachtsman to afford. This combined with the Internet and fax has enabled people to get the most up to date information that is available on weather, chart modifications and special event information e.g. Cowes week. This has led to sailors having greater confidence in that what they are doing is correct and therefore safe.
New technology is also used to promote the sport. For example things like the Internet coverage of the Whitbread and craft like BT Global Challenger and Team Philips raise awareness of sailing. The upshot is that more people are putting to the water with the result that more people are going to need to be rescued.
The rather worrying trend that is developing from all this new technology is that people are placing to much confidence in the technology this is resulting in people attempting to do things that they don’t have the skill to do. What they are doing is using the technology as a substitute for the skill. Thus when inevitably the technology breaks down they are in real trouble. Examples of this are radar assisted collisions and GPS assisted groundings both of which are becoming more and more common. This inevitably leads to the rescue services being deployed.