MAR 24

The Inchworm

Created by TrailGuard

Tuesday July 23, 2013 was the last day Geraldine “Gerry” Largay was heard from. Gerry carried the self declared trail name of “Inchworm” to identify her slow but steady pace at the age of 66. With the assistance of her husband George, Inchworm had been hiking the Appalachian Trail for three months, headed northward from Harpers Ferry, WV. Gerry was no beginner. For eight years she had attended a hiking camp in the Smoky Mountains, taking courses and seminars designed for thru-hikers. Before venturing the AT, she undertook serious precautionary measures and underwent several practice hikes.

The last text to her husband was sent on Tuesday, July 23rd right outside of Stratton, Maine confirming their plans to meet up and renew her supplies. After failing to meet on the designated date, the search for Inchworm began. Her search goes against everything the Maine Warden Service has ever seen in terms of search and rescue. Reportedly about 24 Appalachian Trail hikers go missing in Maine each year, but most are found within the first 48 hours. The search began with the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association leading two teams that walked parallel to the trail, with searchers on both sides at 20 and 40 yards. There were people on foot and horseback with the assistance of nine canines. The search was the largest such effort ever put forth in Maine, with hundreds of skilled rescuers and concerned citizens looking out for Gerry. The final official search concluded on Sunday, August 4th.

Although getting lost in the wilderness can be easy almost all hikers are located within 24 hours and usually all are found. Only about 1% of lost hikers remain missing. Although this percentage is small we believe that with the help of TrailGuard, an interactive app, people like Gerry will have a better chance of returning home to their loved ones. There are many other cases like Gerry’s that have proved time and coverage is of utmost importance in a search and rescue mission.

TrailGuard would’ve provided Gerry the chance to check in before she began her hike. Geolocation checkpoints allow the interactive app to map out hikes, store medical information and if needed, alert authorities to begin a search. By working with the 8 teams supported by the Appalachian Search and Rescue Conference, local stations will be notified when drones are needed for further assistance in emergency situations. We are also interested to explore drones in TrailGuard's search and rescue system. With the newest innovation in drone technology, these small but efficient search and rescue vehicles will be able to spatially navigate the dense forests within the Appalachian Trail. These commercial drones are equipped with video technology that will allow rescuers to see from the drone’s point of view. In cases like Gerry’s we feel that TrailGuard could be of utmost importance in facilitating and expediting the search and rescue process before it’s too late.

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