KALISPELL, Mont. — A Flathead-based search and rescue program added a new rescue tool that could make all the difference this winter.
"This detector from RECCO is one of seven right now in the world, and it's the first one in the Americas," said Two Bear Air rescue director Jim Pierce.
RECCO is an avalanche rescue tool. It works in two parts -- first is a handheld detector that professional search and rescue teams use, and the second is an article of clothing that has a RECCO reflector.
The detector works on battery power to find the reflector that does not need any battery. More than 800 rescue groups worldwide use the handheld detectors.
"It's just another aid in helping us find somebody and save their life," Pierce said.
The handheld detectors reach to about 200 meters.
The collaboration between RECCO and Two Bear Air will test the new helicopter detector. So far they are finding they can fly at a fast speed and find a detector 300-400 feet below them.
It will help aid in a search for any missing person in the backcountry wearing a RECCO reflector.
"The whole idea is to be searchable,” said Howie Howlett from RECCO Technical Support. “You don't have to turn it on. You don't have to plug it in. You never forget it, and it's always on your person if you are unfortunate enough to get lost."
Howlett said about 150 brands have RECCO reflectors in their clothing. You can find out in sports stores by looking for the RECCO tag.
"Some people don't even know they have it, because it's been out for quite a while, and it might be in the coat they have or their friends or family have, but what we really need to know is if they have it," Pierce told NBC Montana.
Pierce said outdoor adventurists should still have things like an avalanche beacon. It's not one or the other, but if they are wearing RECCO, Two Bear Air will be there to help if all other rescue tools fail.