Australia’s Medic52 revolutionise Ski Patrol response with what3words

Australia’s Medic52 platform for ski patrol and first responders has now implemented what3words technology to make saving lives easier in mountain conditions.

The concept is simple. The what3words app has divided the globe into 10 foot x 10 foot (3m x 3m) squares and given each one a unique 3 word address – for instance ///glitch.cherish.mediators will take you to a precise spot on the Whistler Blackcomb Glacier in British Columbia.

The app is free to download and works offline – making it ideal for use in areas with an unreliable data connection, such as remote ski mountains. The 3 word address format is also consistent anywhere in the world, and available in more than 45 languages.

It’s ideal for skiers and boarders lost on the mountain when dispatchers and ski patrollers are forced to waste precious time and resources just trying to locate the person in need of help. At best, this can be frustrating, and at worst can be the difference between life and death.

Now, in an emergency where a location is difficult to describe, callers are able to give their 3 word address from the what3words app. If they do not have it, the dispatcher can send an SMS that contains a link to the what3words browser map site, where they can see their location and read the corresponding 3 word address. 

The three words can then be used to place their location directly on the dispatcher map, to identify the precise location and direct the first responder to exactly where they are. 

This can be particularly effective for emergencies in the backcountry, Nordic trails and glades where it can be complex, imprecise and difficult to communicate location without any addresses or points of reference nearby. 

This system has previously been used at festivals and for disaster relief around the world by the Philippine Red Cross and the UN. It can also be used effectively as a way to share location consistently between Fire, Police and Ambulance, the National Police Air Service, Coastguard, Search and Rescue and Special Operations teams.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.