New Jersey’s Search and Rescue Crew Plots Their Way on Critical Missions

New Jersey Search and Rescue upgrades their mapmaking and rescue abilities simultaneously.

It might surprise those that live away from the eastern seaboard of the United States that New Jersey, the Garden State, actually lives up to its name. Sure, exit 8A on the Jersey Turnpike is exactly what some people might imagine the state to be, a tightly knitted mesh of chemical plants and industrial parks; but beyond that industrial core lay several hundred bucolic landscapes and state forests. While these landscapes provide refuge for those weary of the hustle of city life, they also make life a bit more difficult for one group, the New Jersey Search and Rescue (NJSAR).

NJSAR is a highly trained organization of volunteers that tracks down those who’ve found themselves lost in the state’s sprawling woods. On a yearly basis, the 50-person team heads out into the wilderness an average of 25 times, and when they’re not hunting for the lost, they’re providing incident management services, mountain rescue and K-9 search services to neighboring New York and Pennsylvania.

Like any explorer that thrusts into the unknown, NJSAR does their due diligence to keep their rescue teams from getting lost. One of the most important ways NJSAR can ensure the safety of their personnel is by consulting maps and knowing the lay of the land they’re about to enter. The trouble is, until recently, NJSAR hasn’t had the hardware required to easily make large-scale maps for organizing complicated assemblies of search parties. In fact, until the group invested in a HP DesignJet, NJSAR was piecing maps together manually as they went along.

“Before installing the HP DesignJet T2500 MFP, our team was limited to printing tiled maps on 8.5 by 11-inch paper and taping the pieces together, or just using small maps, which made it difficult for incident management staff to collaborate on scene,” said David Clarke, NJSAR president. “With the HP DesignJet T2500 MFP, we are equipped to produce large-scale maps quickly and reliably to help us optimize our search efforts and help return missing persons to their families.”

What’s most impressive about NJSAR’s new hardware is that it’s improved the group’s already well-honed skills at search and rescue. With their new, larger maps, NJSAR volunteers can help coordinate local and state agencies such as fire, police and EMS to direct systematic searches over very large areas and improve the chances that those who are lost will be found. What’s more, once a mission is complete, the group can archive their activities using the DesignJet’s scanner to digitize every track of their activity so that best practices can be established and other agencies can learn about their approaches to saving lives.