Glentress Forest, scene of the search. Photo: Jim Barton CC-BY-SA-2.0

Glentress Forest, scene of the search. Photo: Jim Barton CC-BY-SA-2.0

A walker lost in a forest was found by mountain rescuers using specialised smartphone tracking software.

Three teams took part in the search for the walker on New Year’s Eve in Glentress Forest near Peebles in the Scottish Borders.

Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team was alerted by police at 3.30pm after they received a 999 call from the man.

Dave Wright of the team said: “Although the police were in mobile phone contact with the missing person, he was unable to describe exactly where he was in the forest which covers an area of approximately 29 sq km

“Given the time of day, cold weather conditions and potential for the missing person to become a victim of hypothermia, TVMRT mobilised immediately.

“Team members split into small groups and carried out ‘hasty’ searches of paths and tracks through the forest to no avail.

“At the same time as the initial searches of tracks and paths were underway, the team attempted to make use of specialist search and rescue system called Sarloc.

“Sarloc has been specifically developed to help locate missing persons. The system works when a web link is sent by text to the missing person’s internet-enabled mobile phone.

“Once the link is accessed by the missing person, the application utilises the phone’s GPS to send the position to a secure website which is then accessed by the mountain rescue team.”

Mr Wright said due to the challenge of intermittent mobile phone reception in the forest and the period of time the man had been missing, it was decided to increase the number of bring in extra volunteers to add the 15 TVMRT members and search and rescue dog already on scene.

“The Borders Search and Rescue Unit mobilised with eight of their team members and Moffat MRT provided 13 persons,” he said.

“Sarda Scotland and Sarda Southern Scotland provided an additional three dogs and handlers to assist in the search.

“In addition to the MRT and Sarda resource, Lothian and Borders Police requested the assistance of the Strathclyde Police helicopter.

“As the additional resources were travelling to the search area, the Sarloc system yielded a grid reference which allowed team members to locate the missing man at around 8.30.”

One member of the Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team, who was staying with a Tweed Valley team member, also took part.

Sarloc was developed by former Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation member Russ Hore who has made it available to other search and rescue teams free of charge.

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