How a Zig-Zag Coast Guard Search Pattern Helps Save Lives

Take a trip to a Coast Guard command center.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Imagine this. You are on a ship in the middle of nowhere enjoying the deep blue seas and slow rocking motion of the boat. All of a sudden something goes wrong and the ship starts to sink. What do you do then?

You call the Coast Guard of course to come to your rescue. But how does the Coast Guard handle such a search and rescue mission? According to YouTuber SmarterEveryDay, it uses a zig-zag search pattern to carefully spot and outline your location and send the appropriate help.

The YouTuber takes us to a Coast Guard command center that tackles the area along the Gulf Coast of the United States. The officers there proceed to answer all his questions and show him firsthand how they operate. 

It turns out that according to what the officers are searching for (a boat, a human, a human with a life jacket, and so forth), they use different search patterns to spot them and come to their rescue.

What are those search patterns? Why are they zig-zagged? Who conceived of them? When did the Coast Guard implement them and how are they guaranteed to work? This video answers all these questions and more.

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