Spokane Regional Air Support Unit adds RECCO search-and-rescue helicopter detector system

NewsNovember 18, 2023

Second helicopter detector in Washington state marks the first state with two helicopter units, a growing search tool network.

RECCO, the advanced rescue technology manufacturer, this month launched its eighth RECCO SAR helicopter detector system in the US in partnership with the Spokane Regional Air Support Unit (SRASU) in western Washington. The helicopter system will be used to search for missing people in the outdoors year-round. This fall, SRASU personnel have been training on how to effectively deploy and use the RECCO detector. The Washington Rescue 3 Flight Crews are now officially operational with the system, allowing for lost outdoor recreationalists to be located more efficiently.

Many search and rescue teams in Washington are equipped with handheld RECCO detectors for year-round rescue scenarios, and this will be the second helicopter-based detector in the state. In the Washington and Montana areas, there are currently two RECCO SAR helicopter detector systems – one in Snohomish County near Seattle, and one in Flathead County Montana. The SRASU helicopter detector fills the gap between the two, allowing for increased searchability in the Spokane area and beyond.

“The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the Spokane Regional Air Support Unit are excited to partner with RECCO to deploy this new technology at no cost. This new detection system will help save lives, reduce search times, and help keep our search and rescue teams safe. This is a much-needed tool for eastern Washington and northern Idaho,” said Chief David Ellis, Spokane Valley Police Department.

The RECCO SAR Helicopter Detector can quickly search large areas, covering a square kilometer in six minutes. Along with helping reduce search times for missing people, the helicopter-based detector can reduce the time and the exposure to risk for rescue workers during search missions.

“We are excited to announce that the SRASU is operational with the system. The placement in Spokane marks the first state with two helicopter units. This cooperation is an important next step in order to quicker locate people in distress in the state,” says Fredrik Steinwall, CEO at RECCO.

RECCO rescue reflectors are commonly found in outdoor clothing and equipment, such as bike helmets, hiking shoes and climbing harnesses. Other applications include backpacks, like the Helly Hansen Resistor Backpack, or in hunting apparel from the brand FORLOH out of Whitefish, Montana.

Currently, there are 36 RECCO SAR Helicopter detectors globally, with 12 located in North America and 24 units deployed across Europe. The latest deployments include Helico Secours, Quebec (CAN), Colorado Highland Helicopters, Durango (US) and a RECCO SAR helicopter detector based out of Lauterbrunnen (SUI) operated by Air Glaciers.


RECCO® advanced rescue technology makes outdoor enthusiasts searchable to rescuers in case of an avalanche accident or when lost in the outdoors. The technology builds on a two-part radar system. Rescuers carry RECCO® detectors that send out search signals which are echoed by RECCO® reflectors, carried by the user. RECCO® detectors are used worldwide at more than 900 ski resorts and mountain rescue organizations in 32 countries. RECCO® reflectors are integrated into select apparel, helmets, protection gear and boots manufactured by more than 150 leading outdoor brands. RECCO AB was founded in 1983 in Sweden and is owned by its founder Magnus Granhed and the publicly traded investment company Traction AB (listed on OMX Nordic Exchange Stockholm). More info at recco.com.

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