Thermal imager for Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service

Sydney’s Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service has received a boost with the supply of an advanced thermal imaging camera from Thales Australia.

The camera, from the company’s Sophie range of world-leading thermal imagers, will be used to help rescue crews detect and identify people in need of assistance.

The camera works by identifying body heat and is effective day and night, in a wide range of conditions. It has a high sensitivity to small differences in temperature, meaning people can be detected even after being in cold water for some time.

Westpac Life Saver CEO Stephen Leahy said: “This generous donation will continue to grow our capacity as the only dedicated search and rescue helicopter in NSW. Nearly half of all our search and rescue missions are at night and this technology will allow us to search more quickly and effectively.”

Chris Jenkins, Thales Australia’s CEO, said the company was pleased to help out such a valuable community service. “The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service is an organisation dedicated to saving lives, and our thermal imaging technology will make their job easier, especially in challenging situations. This is especially useful as the service recently resumed 24/7 operations, and is on standby around the clock to help those in need.”

The Sophie thermal imager is being trialled free of charge for a period of six months under an arrangement that also includes training for helicopter crews.

Designed for long range surveillance, the camera has a range of three kilometres. An image stabilisation feature allows operators to more easily identify heat signatures, while an image storage facility enables the collection of photos from rescue missions.

More than 10,000 Sophie cameras are in operation in 50 countries, including with the Australian Defence Force.

Source: Thales Group (Paris: HO.PA)
Date: May 22, 2012