8 Mar 2009

Technology guides rescuers to trapped driver

4:19 pm on 8 March 2009

Technology has played a major part in allowing rescuers to locate an injured woman trapped in her car.

The car rolled near Rotorua on Friday morning and landed upside down in a ditch. It would not have been visible to other motorists or searchers.

The woman managed to phone a friend using her cell phone, but all that emergency services knew was that she was injured, somewhere between Opotiki and Palmerston North - a distance of more than 400 kilometres.

Vodafone was able to trace the woman's location to the north-west part of Rainbow Mountain because of the cell phone tower her phone was linking to.

111 operators were able to contact the woman and tell her to continually sound the vehicle's horn, letting fire staff pinpoint her location as they travelled along State Highway 5.

She was found as they travelled south past the Tamaki Maori Village near Waiotapu.

Jaron Phillips from the Fire Service says the woman's mobile phone played a vital role, and a rescue that could have taken hours instead took just 21 minutes. He says the woman's car narrowly missed a water hole and she is extremely lucky to be alive.