Evaluating mapping software and GPS

CarolinaFireJournal - David Pease
David Pease The Reds Team
04/29/2011 -
As I write this article, I have just returned from a week of jungle search and survival training in Costa Rica. It is a beautiful country with lots of dense jungles and remarkable creatures. During my training there I was able to work with several items that I will be writing about over the next few issues. I also plan to do an article about our training in the jungles, and tell you about a class we plan to do in the future. It was great training, but I am glad to be back in the USA. image

I have written several articles in the past about the products from Delorme. I have used their products and software and have been extremely pleased at what they have come out with. They continue to strive in the improvement of their technology, which in the end benefits us as rescuers.

I have talked about the mapping software and the PN series GPS units and I was able to evaluate the new PN-60w with SPOT satellite service in the jungles of Costa Rica. This gave me the opportunity to truly put this unit and system to the test. I have also used the PN-60 on a search to assist one of the local police departments on a missing persons case.

The PN-60 is the latest of the PN series GPS units from Delorme. This unit is faster and has more memory than its earlier counterparts. If you go with the PN-60w, then you can align with the SPOT satellite system. Prior to our search, I downloaded not only the topographical map of the area we were to search, but also the DQQQ, or aerial view of the area as well.

The GPS units allow for the layering or displaying of both maps so you can do a comparison in the field. You can switch from one map to the other and the tracks will display on both. You can then go back to the computer, and utilizing the Delorme XMap or Topo Map software, you can download your tracks and view them on your PC or laptop. This gives you a good indication of where you traveled and searched during your mission. I also noted, that in the woods, and especially in the jungles of Costa Rica, the PN-60 was able to hit the satellites even through the dense canopy of foliage overhead.

Now, let’s bring in the SPOT system to go with the PN-60w. This is a satellite transmitter that allows you to transmit not only your position, but preset or field-typed messages from anywhere in the world.  As long as you have satellite coverage, you can send a message. The SPOT also allows for an emergency SOS to be sent if someone is lost, and a coordinated search and rescue effort will be initiated. The SPOT is set up for critical, urgent and casual messages to be sent. The SOS is obviously a critical message that supersedes all others. An urgent message is one that is set up for a non critical response to a predetermined group that you select.

You have to subscribe to a yearly service for use of the SPOT system, but the yearly charge is quite reasonable. Once you subscribe, the service will allow you to set up all your contacts and draft preset messages you can send. This allows me to page my team members from the field with information such as; “The subject has been found. Return to base,” “Need assistance at this location,” “Need medical assistance at this location,” and so on. Since the message sent includes your coordinates, you can be quickly located.

The Delorme Mapping software and PN series GPS units are an excellent choice for the search and rescue applications that we encounter. The GPS uses rechargeable batteries or Lithium if you so choose. The GPS unit will download to any of the Delorme software, and they are working on making it compatible with other mapping programs as well.

You can also use the PN-60 to navigate to the call or mission you are responding to. Delorme also offers a library of maps that you can subscribe to for downloads that is also very reasonable in price. This library will give you topo, DQQQ, and even nautical maps you can download. I have been impressed with the Delorme line of mapping software and their PN-60 GPS units, and would not hesitate to recommend them for use in search and rescue applications.


In future issues we will discuss hammocks and water purification. Always select good equipment, especially if your life or someone else’s life depends on it. Until next time, stay safe....

If you have any questions or comments e-mail David Pease at [email protected]and visit the team website at www.RedsTeam.com.
Comments & Ratings

Daily Fire / EMS News

A collection of Fire / EMS -related news from around the web!

Get Aggregated RSS

View the full Fire - Rescue - EMS News section
for more articles

About the Carolina Fire Rescue EMS Journal

Welcome to the Carolina Fire Rescue EMS Journal! We want to provide you with timely online information and breaking news that best equips you to meet today’s emergency challenges. Among our firefighting articles, you will find the latest in firefighter technology, firefighter training, leadership development and the newest products and services presented in an “Act Now” user friendly format.  We want to be your best online source for the fire and rescue information, resources and reviews you need.
Regional Impact, National in Scope
  • Delivered free of charge to ALL fire departments, ambulance bays, rescue squads and hazmat teams in North and South Carolina
  • Quarterly circulation includes: fire academies, industry related technical schools and colleges and all major apparatus manufacturers
  • Regional & National trade show distribution
  • Largest circulated regional industry trade publication subscription base