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Assisting Search and Rescue (SAR) Operations with Videoscopes


During natural disasters, such as earthquakes and typhoons, or human-made disasters, such as fires and traffic accidents, emergency responders may have to conduct search and rescue (SAR) operations to find people who have gone missing or rescue victims who are trapped or buried. Time is of the essence in these situations, but rescue efforts can be hindered by lack of access—for example, when victims are inside a collapsed building or beneath a landslide. Remote visual inspection (RVI) using videoscopes can help rescuers ascertain the person’s location and decide on the best course of action.

Since videoscopes can play an important role in rescuing survivors, search and rescue teams often carry them as standard equipment. The following sections explore the ways that various videoscope features can be advantageous during SAR operations.

SAR and Disaster-Relief Videoscope Requirements

Natural disasters can disrupt electricity, the water supply, and other essential utilities and make roads, bridges, and tunnels unusable, significantly affecting rescue operations. Rescuers may be forced to conduct operations while encumbered by a lot of equipment and impeded by severe conditions such as rain, water spray from firefighting, and dust caused by collapsed houses. Rescues in such harsh conditions require videoscopes that are portable and resistant to environmental conditions.

Because of the inherent dangers of disaster sites, primary rescue operations are usually carried out by the minimum number of rescuers required. To assess situations accurately and make quick decisions, it is important that the on-site rescue team be able to share the images captured by their videoscopes in real time with the off-site support team.

The Benefits of IPLEX Series Videoscopes

Olympus’ IPLEX series of videoscopes are used by search and rescue teams in rescue operations since they are compact and portable, feature the capabilities that are required for SAR operations, and meet the needs of rescuers.

Dependable, Even in Harsh Conditions

The most important requirement of SAR equipment is that it works properly in severe conditions. IPLEX G Lite videoscopes are IP65 rated dustproof and water resistant and manufactured to pass the U.S. Department of Defense's testing (MIL-STD), which helps ensure that they will stand up to the extreme weather and environmental conditions often endured during search and rescue operations.

Small, Lightweight and Highly Mobile

Another sought-after feature of search and rescue equipment is portability. IPLEX G Lite videoscopes are small, lightweight, and highly mobile, weighing only about 1 kg (2.2 lb). This helps reduce the physical burden on rescuers.

At rescue-operation sites, rescuers usually wear gloves for their safety. The IPLEX G Lite videoscope enables users wearing gloves to easily articulate the tip of the scope and operate the controls.

High-Intensity Lighting That Illuminates Large, Dark Spaces

SAR operations can take place underground, indoors, outdoors at night, or under other low-visibility conditions. The IPLEX G Lite has a powerful LED light source that provides the brightness required to search for victims in large and dark spaces. However, using powerful lighting such as this can drain the battery more quickly. Since a search and rescue operation can last for hours, or even days, battery longevity is critical. IPLEX G Lite videoscopes automatically adjust the light intensity in response to the brightness of the surrounding environment, which reduces power consumption to better support search and rescue teams for the long haul.

Wide-Angle Lens for Bright and Clear Images

An IPLEX G Lite videoscope’s insertion tube is only 6 mm (0.2 in.) thick, and it features a high-quality, wide-angle lens that is designed using the expertise that Olympus has accumulated through our nearly one-hundred-year history manufacturing cameras and microscopes.

The wide-angle lens can help rescuers as it gives them a wider view of the search area. The lens also offers uniform brightness with no distortion, even at the periphery. It provides an angle of view twice as large and an observation area four times as large as that of the average pinhole-lens videoscope.

Wireless Live Streaming

When combined with a wireless adaptor, the IPLEX G Lite videoscope can share real-time images captured on site with portable devices, such as tablets or smartphones, in remote locations. The support team can view these shared images to assess the situation at the same time as the on-site rescue team. On-site and off-site teams can simultaneously observe the discovery of survivors and easily exchange the information required to decide on the best course of action.


The IPLEX G Lite videoscope is an efficient tool in disaster zones and for search and rescue operations due to its compactness, lightweight, high portability, and resistance to harsh environmental conditions. Its ability to provide bright, clear images in large, dark spaces can facilitate the work of rescuers and assist them in the discovery of survivors.

Olympus IMS
Productos para la aplicación

The IPLEX G Lite industrial videoscope packs powerful imaging capabilities into a small, rugged body. Lightweight and able to go almost anywhere, users working in challenging applications have a remote visual inspection tool with the image quality and ease of use to get the job done.

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