Irish rescue teams have begun using a new smartphone application to find walkers and climbers lost in the hills and mountains.

By sending a simple text message to the missing person's phone, rescuers can pinpoint their location.

The mountain rescue teams in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains are the busiest rescuers in Ireland and Britain, covering an area spanning 500 square miles. Last year responded to 63 callouts.

Their job has just become a bit easier thanks to a new smartphone application called SarLoc.

It was developed by a veteran mountain rescuer Russ Hore working in the Snowdonia National Park in north Wales.

When a person uses their mobile phone to call for help when they are lost, stranded or injured in the mountains, the mountain rescue teams send them a text message.

This text message contains a special link.

The missing person then clicks on this link which activates the GPS in their phone, or in their operators' server, which then sends the coordinates of the phone to the mountain rescue teams' dedicated server.

These coordinates then automatically appear on an electronic map, pinpointing their location.

The use of this technology can accurately locate the missing person, with a margin of error of just 100 metres.

Obviously this application can only work if the person has mobile phone coverage and has a smartphone.

The system is currently only being used by the Dublin-Wicklow and Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue Teams, but it should be in operation right across the country by later in the Spring.

The rescuers hope that, in time, mobile phone operators will be able to boost coverage in certain areas if the rescue teams know they are searching for a person where the phone signal is weak.

Although this technology will be a great benefit to mountain rescue teams across the country, they are anxious to point out that smartphones and other GPS enabled devices are no substitute for essential survival skills.

They say that nobody should go walking or exploring in hills or mountains without a map and a compass, and should have the necessary skills to know how to navigate their way around.