May 19, 2022

The Murfreesboro Police Department in Tennessee attributes a phone app for saving the lives of two teenage girls who got lost in a park. The Police Department addressed the event in a news release, implying that had it not been for the What3words location app, the two adolescents’ fates might have been quite different.

Authorities said they were dispatched to Barfield Park at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday after receiving a 911 call from the kids saying they were lost. The girls stated that they spent an hour after dark attempting to locate their vehicle using Google maps but were unsuccessful.

The Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department (MFRD) was also dispatched to assist with the search with all-terrain vehicles and an infrared-equipped drone, but it was the What3words app that ultimately assisted firefighters in locating the teens after they discovered one of the girls had What3words on her phone.

According to authorities, the crew members utilized the app and were able to determine the girls’ whereabouts at approximately 9:26 p.m. According to the press statement, the search was conducted without the use of drones due to the app. Authorities reported that the teenagers sustained no injuries.

“They were approximately three-quarters of a mile from the location they entered the trails hours before,” MFRD Battalion Chief Jamie Bigelow said in a statement. “Both girls were brought out by all-terrain vehicles. They thanked firefighters for helping to locate them.”

What3words divides the earth into 3-meter squares and identifies specific locations using a unique combination of three words, according to its website. Downloaded from the App Store and Google Play by millions of users around the world, the free app prides itself on being “the easiest way to find and share exact locations,” as well as helping to make life “safer, more efficient and less frustrating.”

Following the event, Murfreesboro Emergency Communications Director Seth Russell indicated that the Emergency Communications Center intends to finish What3words app training by the end of September.

“This is a valuable tool to aid 9-1-1 operators and first responders in locating anyone who finds themselves lost, injured, or in need of help in an unfamiliar location,” said Russell.