REPS (a shortcut for “REševalni PSi” which in direct translation would be REscue DOgs) is a humanitarian organization where mostly volunteers under leadership of qualified instructors are training their dogs and themselves for the tasks of SAR.
In the 90-ies there was no real possibility to train dogs and dog handlers for tasks of SAR in NE region of Slovenia. For few years in that period some enthusiasts were trying to find any organized institution as umbrella organization for set up the cornerstone for their efforts in establishing first SAR team(s) in that region. As all starts in various associations failed, mostly for the reason of not knowing enough (or nothing at all) how to deal with this branch of training dogs and consequently presence of fear of starting something new, new association was founded in 1997– REPS Maribor NGO (non governmental organization). At the beginning the one and only mission of people in it was to gather as much theoretical and practical knowledge in field of SAR. First SAR teams followed in years to come, operating and co-operating with similar associations in Slovenia. Very soon the experiences and upgraded knowledge enables us to spread our activities internationally – through participation in many events inside Europe. Getting more and more connections we were soon encouraged to organize some international SAR trainings by ourselves. Good response of our guests motivated us for putting our efforts in becoming full or at least affiliated members of recognized international associations, such as BAG, IRO… and we became (and still are).
In Slovenia we were conferred as a Humanitarian organization (status is granted by Slovenian governmental authorities, the Ministry RS of Health)
Not only trainings but also real use of SAR teams is the case in the last decade. We had no opportunity to be involved in international SAR in last disasters (earthquakes), but two of our members have gained knowledge for dog handlers in such occasions (following INSARAG Guidelines). All this skills and knowledge is used when searching for lost people in our region (in co-operation with our police forces, who are legally obliged for this). We were involved in two major international projects. We are the first SAR association (as we found out not only in Slovenia) which start to use APRS technology (in co-operation and development with University of Maribor FACULTY OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING (FERI) and radio amateur association Radioclub Student Maribor – S59DXX in our activities. With technology we are able to follow all movements and positions of dog handler and his dog ‘’in live’’ on screen from mobile (or from headquarters) office. Of course we can influence on their further movements through radio stations (we can see wider picture of terrain and possible obstacles).
Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) is an amateur radio-based system for real time tactical digital communications of information of immediate value in the local area. In addition, all such data is ingested into the APRS Internet System (APRS-IS) and distributed globally for ubiquitous and immediate access. Along with messages, alerts, announcements, and bulletins, the most visible aspect of APRS is its map display. Anyone may place any object or information on his or her map, and it is distributed to all maps of all users in the local RF network or monitoring the area via the Internet. Any station, radio, or object that has an attached GPS is automatically tracked. Other prominent map features are weather stations, alerts and objects and other map-related amateur radio volunteer activities including Search and Rescue and signal direction finding.
APRS contains a number of packet types including position/object/item, status, messages, queries, weather reports and telemetry. The position/object/item packets contain the latitude and longitude, and a symbol to be displayed on the map, and have many optional fields for altitude, course, speed, radiated power, antenna height above average terrain, antenna gain, and voice operating frequency. Positions of fixed stations are configured in the APRS software. Moving stations (portable or mobile) automatically derive their position information from a GPS receiver connected to the APRS equipment.
The map display uses these fields to plot communication range of all participants and facilitate the ability to contact users during both routine and emergency situations. Each position/object/item packet can use any of several hundred different symbols. Position/objects/items can also contain weather information or can be any number of dozens of standardised weather symbols. Each symbol on an APRS map can display many attributes discriminated either by colour or other technique.
These attributes are:
- Moving or fixed
- Dead-Reckoned or old
- Message capable or not
- Station, object or item
- Own object/item or other station object/item
- Emergency, priority, or special
The usual pack radio is used for the transmission of large amounts of data between two fixed stations, either directly or through digipiters known in advance. Therefore, it is relatively difficult to realize the network that transmits data, which have a short life span and made up of a portable radio stations. APRS transform a normal packet radio into a powerful system for the transmission of real-time data and their spatial presentation on various tracking systems. The basic unit of the APRS system is called the tracker. It is composed of a GPS receiver, TNC and a radio station. The GPS receiver uses signals from the satellite navigation system for the calculation of the geographical location; it sends them via the RS232 interface approximately every second to the TNC. The information is in the form of an ASCII data series, which contain the exact time, geographical longitude, latitude and altitude (a widely spread NMEA-0183 protocol is used, which almost all GPS receivers are able to communicate with). TNC sends them in the form of UI AX.25 beacons. These beacons are “intended” for all stations (exceptions are only APRS messages, which are intended only for specific stations, but are also UI beacons). The simplest trackers cannot receive APRS messages and use the radio receiver only to send a beacon when the channel is silent. An example of that is Tiny-Trak tracker, which is made with a PIC 16F84 processor.
UI framework it looks like: S55YNG1>APRS,RELAY,WIDE:!4559.91N/01339.42En/A=002236 SuperVozelj JN65TX 682masl
S55YNG station is allocated a framework to address APRS via digits RELAY and WIDE. Individual parts of the series have the following meanings: an exclamation mark (!) means a station that can not receive APRS messages, then there are latitude and longitude in degrees (the first two or three digits) and minutes (until the next issue of the decimal point), and hundredths of minutes and letters of N (north) or S (south) or E (East), and W (West). Followed by the symbol (in our case N), which determines the symbol that will appear on the map: code for digital. The next series gives the height in feet (A = 002,236 means 2,236 feet or 682m above sea level).
EXAMPLE ON LINE:
Communications system using the APRS system includes local communication rescuers on the ground and contains: the base station to the PC and mobile station.
Operator follows rescuers using APRS system. The group leader is equipped with a dual-channel mobile radio station with connected GPS.
Add 1-5: Automatic periodic transfer of coordinates on one channel, verbal communication with the database on another channel. Operator, located on the base station has access to current information and guidance to emergency responders in the field.
We also use the ASTRO GPS – enabled dog tracking system for rescue dog, DC tm 40 transmitter, pinpoints our dog s location up to an 11 km range depending on terrain. We can even tell if the dog he is pointing, sitting, moving or treeing. Dog position updates every 5, 10, 30 or 120 seconds.
Technology enables us more and more usable help and our aim is to follow that development – everything through perception of training SAR team an awareness of dogs limitations.
A list of up to 5 relevant previous projects or activities, connected to the subject of this proposal:
Since 2002: Implementation of a number of courses for guides and rescue dogs (beginner, advanced and specialized), performance of selections for the annual tests of the rescue dog guides, implementation of the project: Examination Regulations (in 1998) by adjusting
2004-2005 Participation: Hungarian INSARAG Course III. Phase (Evaluation exercise of SAR teams according to UN OCHA INSARAG Guidelines), Due to the UN GA Resolution No. 57/150 (16 December 2002) and in accordance with the Civil Strategy of the Ministry of the Interior of Hungary, the National Directorate General for Disaster Management aims to train and prepare domestic and foreign teams for effective SAR activities.
2006 Master’s degree (Darinka Lečnik-Urbancl) at the Faculty of national and European Studies on the theme:
»PROVISION OF HUMANITERIAN ASSISTANCE IN INTERNATIONAL RESCUE MISSIONS IN TERMS OF ORGANIZATION AND OPERATIONAL READINESS OF SEARCH-RESCUE TEAMS«
2009 No.6537- PW PREPARATORY VISIT IN GD UK
2010-2013 UK/10/LLP-LDV/TOI-332 Transfer of Innovation/ multilateral project EUROPEAN GUIDE DOG MOBILITY STANDARDS.Implementing standards for guide dogs and instructors, clients (with this project we got the opportunity how to develop and rolling out a qualifying programme of training for instructors, rescue, guide and assistance dogs and clients).
2011-2013 LDV MOB 67/11 “Advanced techniques for training of guide dog for blind persons and assistance dogs and preparation of candidates and the introduction of European standards of education”.Trainees to travel abroad to have a learning or training experience, LDV supports mobility and innovation projects in vocational education and training and further education. Individuals can do a work placement or other stay abroad – and thus broaden their knowledge and skills.
2013-2014 Exchange of methodologies for ISS (Innovative social service) and standardization of terminology,mutual exchange of methodologies during which the Candidate E4P Sofia will adopt innovative methods of providing the social service – assisting dogs; Partner REPS-CANIS will adopt innovative methods of providing the social service – guide dogs and unification of the used terminology (we work with Ministry of labour and social Policy of Bulgaria and Fondacia Eyes on four Paws, Sofia).