NY Prisoner Escape Turns Up Low and High-Tech Tools in High-Stakes Manhunt

There is a surprisingly old-school feel to some of the tactics being used.

— -- Among the tools police are using to find the convicted killers who escaped from an update New York prison five days ago, some are surprisingly low-tech.

From bloodhounds and human spotters hidden in the woods hoping to identify some non-wildlife movement, some of the tactics that are on full display indicate a fundamentally basic manhunt.

Helicopters are flying over the area and hundreds of law enforcement officers – state and local police, not to mention federal officials who have come to assist -- are tackling the search on the ground.

"We have aircraft, we have canines, we have tons of ground personnel," New York State Trooper Jennifer Fleischman said at a press conference this afternoon. "We're exhausting every resource we have available."

"In this situation, the search teams that are combing through the country side will be supported by tactical operators from afar -- SWAT trained personnel who will likely be equipped with and utilize high-powered binoculars and rifle scopes with zoom in and out capabilities," Gomez said.

"These tactical personnel will be searching from a distance via binoculars and scopes to not alert anyone of their presence but at the same time, to have effective eyes on the ground to determine any movement and to then support the search teams that are moving in to get a closer look."

Thermal imaging, which is closer to the high end of the technology spectrum, is also a key tool that will be used both on the ground and in air components, Gomez said, and that will make the biggest difference at night when the woods are less visible. Sources have also confirmed to ABC News that the FBI has lent air assets with night vision to the search efforts.

Bloodhounds are being used to track their scents and have reportedly already gotten a few hits in different directions, leading to shifts in the police search. The problem with the dogs, Giacalone points out, is that the men’s scents will have faded over the past few days and there is always the possibility that they fled toward Lake Champlain, which is only about 15 miles away from the prison and provides a route across state lines.

“Talk about low-tech, but the dogs are only as good as the scent that they track,” Giacalone said.

Vermont Gov. Shumlin announced Wednesday that marine patrols have been activated on the lake.

Another tool that the police have used is a repeated plea to the public. In a news conference on Wednesday announcing that they are following up on a tip that points toward the inmates heading to Vermont, officials urged vigilance from residents.

Beyond just asking for them to call in tips if they see anything out of the ordinary, residents in the towns near Dannemora, where the prison is located, have been asked to keep any and all outdoor or patio lights on throughout the night in an effort to help any police officers see better in their evening searches.