MAINE (WABI) - With the summer vacation months approaching, the Maine Warden Service is preparing for its busiest time of the year when it comes to people missing in the Maine wilderness.
"We annually average about 400 searches a year,” said Lt. Kevin Adam. “So that's for everything we do. Our two highest activities are actually watercraft sports and hiking."
With such a high volume of searches, wardens often reach out to other agencies like state police, fire departments, and Down East Emergency Medical Institute, also known as D.E.E.M.I.
"We will quickly get out on social media to all our volunteers that there is this particular search going on, we'll figure out what is the best resource to use, whether it be a ground search team or fixed wing or drone, and we'll work accordingly to go out and find the missing person," explained Vinal Applebee, DE.E.M.I’s Chief UAV Pilot.
Both wardens and D.E.E.M.I have many tools to assist in search and rescue operations. It's led to high success rates in search and rescue operations.
"92-percent of people are located in some fashion within 12 hours of being reported lost,” said Adam. “97-percent of people are located within 24 hours."
"We have a K9 team that locates a lot of people in the woods, we have a time team, we also have an incident management team which does a lot of planning and deploying all the search resources in an orderly fashion and that's probably why we're very successful most of the time."
D.E.E.M.I also has the ability to use drones to find missing people.
"We have available a couple of different cameras that we use on our drones,” said Applebee. “One is the visible light spectrum, the same as any camera that you're accustomed to. We also have the ability to fly a thermal camera, an infrared camera."
According to both agencies, if you do get lost in the wilderness, your chances of being rescued increase by making yourself as visible as possible.
"If you know someone is out looking for you, particularly if it's an aerial search, you hear an airplane or hear a drone fly over, try to get yourself out in an open area," said Applebee. "We're looking for something abnormal, whether it be a color that doesn't really belong there, let's say bright orange, high visibility clothing that is deep in the woods somewhere. That doesn't make any sense, so that's likely a chance that that's something that we need to further investigate."
"If we have contact, obviously we would tell you to stay put if you can,” said Adam. “The best thing you could do is try to find the most open spot that you can.”
In part two, we’ll hear from a survival expert about some things you should do if you cannot be rescued immediately.