Twitter: International Rescue

Tragic events unfolded on Tuesday this week as some British skiers were separated from two of their party in Swiss ski resort, Verbier.

Members of the party – a group of UK  entrepreneurs including 2006 ‘The Apprentice’ star Michelle Dewberry – used Twitter in trying to locate the missing skiers. Despite the efforts of the online community and the Swiss mountain rescue, developments which were instantly relayed on Twitter, one of the skiers died on the mountainside.

Sad though they are, these events have highlighted the ways in which online and mobile tools can be harnessed to help people in emergency situations. A Twitter update by one of the group, trying to find the mobile number of the second stranded skier was re-tweeted across the site. In the following hours, a combination of Google Maps, GPS and triangulating signals returned from his iPhone may well have helped save his life – Tavaria was found alive by mountain rescue.

Would the last person who thnks social networking is peripheral to every day use please turn out the light on your way out.