St. Martin Parish using new GPS technology along the basin

St. Martin Parish using new GPS technology along the basin
Image provided by staff
Monday, August 4, 2014 - 4:17pm

It's no secret that the basin is huge. And in a rescue - time is a first responders enemy.
But in Saint Martin parish, the sheriff's office, and property owners are working together to install GPS tracking software all through the swamp to help shorten that response time.

"We've got a GPS and a picture of every camp, if someone calls and they tells us there is a camp near. We know exactly where to go," said Camille Blanchard, a marine patrol officer.

But it wasn't always this easy. Before the camps were tracked, boaters only had a few signs to rely on.

"When I originally started we had a big problem with finding people cause nothing was marked. So I told the sheriff that we need to mark the Bayou's and the River's, just like a street," Blanchard said.

Even someone who is intimately familiar with the area can sometimes get lost in the biggest swamp in the U.S.

"As you can see when you are out there, unless you know this area or there is a specific landmark, you're not going to know where you are. So it's very important especially if there is a medical emergency to be able to get there in a timely fashion," said Ginny Higgins, public information officer for the St. Martin Parish Sheriff's office.

Marine patrol is always busy this time of the year, and they also anticipate an increased number of issues starting in early October - at the start of hunting season. They're called out two to three times a week.

And while we live in an age where we rely on technology, cell phone service along the basin isn't very reliable, so boaters should always plan for the worst.

"Always let someone know where you are going, number 1. Number 2, if you do go out make sure you have provisions to last you not only for a day but possibly into the next day because you never know," Higgins said.

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