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USGS Helps Find Colombian Educator Lost in Louisiana Swamp
Released: 5/27/2011 5:15:38 PM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Jennifer LaVista 1-click interview
Phone: 303-202-4764

Gabrielle Bodin 1-click interview
Phone: 337-266-8655

A missing university official from Colombia was located using maps and geospatial data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Science Response Vehicle (SRV) Team and the National Park Service (NPS).   

The missing person was found after being lost in the swamp for five days at the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve, south of New Orleans, La.  

The USGS National Wetlands Research Center's SRV was deployed at the request of the NPS to assist with the search and rescue operation on May 24. The USGS SRV team responded quickly to produce detailed maps from geospatial information to assist in recovery efforts. Over 100 field maps were produced, which enabled the NPS to find the missing man and rescue him on May 25.

The USGS SRV team consisted of team leader Stephen Hartley along with geographers Gene Nelson and Bill Jones.

 "Accurate maps are essential in search and rescue efforts," said Leslie Velarde, NPS Information Officer. "In this case it proved to be an invaluable asset for the success of the operation."

"The USGS was relieved at the positive outcome and proud that our SRV team contributed to the rescue," said Marcia McNutt, USGS Director. "In many instances during the past year we have been called upon to contribute geospatial data and expertise to analyze it in times of crisis."

The SRV was first used during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to map 911 rescue calls and critical infrastructure, such as levee breaks, bridges and pumping stations; and for performing water-quality sampling at sites along Lake Pontchartrain. The vehicle has been deployed multiple times since then, most recently during the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill.  

"It's incredible how much geospatial technology is now being used in search and rescue missions," said USGS SRV team member, Bill Jones. "The acceptance of the technology has greatly increased since Hurricane Katrina." 

The SRV is ready to be deployed at any time, especially during hurricane season when it may get called into service repeatedly for Federal, State or local response efforts. The SRV is equipped with computers, software, and plotters to provide spatial analyses during and after natural or man-made disasters.  

To learn more about the USGS Science Response Vehicle visit the USGS National Wetlands Research Center website.

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