Laser signal device attracts Army, borough buyers

Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An Anchorage company has caught the attention of the Army, the North Slope Borough Search and Rescue and major mail-order companies with a laser signaling device.

Greatland Laser is supplying laser lighting systems for emergency signaling to the military and the Barrow-based agency, according to Jim and Kim O'Meara, the company owners.

The company's patented laser signaling devices, which Jim O'Meara developed five years ago, also are being sold at 40 dealers nationwide and through mail-order companies Cabellas, Red Envelope and Galls, a police and firefighting outfitter.

A special forces unit of the Army is placing an order for 850 Rescue Laser Lights, a machined aluminum light that attaches to the butt end of a small flashlight.

North Slope Borough Search and Rescue purchased 180 Laser Flares, a larger, more powerful version of the Laser Light.

The O'Mearas said the flares will be used with personal locator beacons, emergency transmitters that send distress signals via satellite.

The emergency transmitters have been used since 1992 in the region and have been credited with saving several lives. Jim O'Meara says his product will further help out with locating a lost or hurt villager.

''Every village in Alaska needs these,'' said Jim O'Meara. ''If you save three hours of helicopter time, you've paid for these.''

North Slope villagers can check out an emergency transmitter and the laser lights for free, much like a library book.

The Rescue Laser Flare and the Rescue Laser Light are signaling devices that can be seen more than 10 miles away. They also can be used to light up reflective materials on lifejackets, street signs, reflective clothing, buoys, channel markers, trail markers, and reflectors on bikes, cars or snowmachines.

The secret to the signaling devices is in their lenses. Instead of a single dot found on a laser pen pointer, the lenses stretch the dot into a line, which grows in length the farther it is away from the signaling device.

The company, located at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, employs five people.

In addition to the laser lights, the company also is developing laser runway lighting that is being tested by the Federal Aviation Administration.

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