Drones and Search and Rescue

Drones are really tailor made to assist search and rescue teams. They offer the ability to cover large areas in a fraction of the time of a ground based search, and over any type of terrain.


The emergency services have already begun to leverage the power of having a cost-effective camera in the sky with many police forces across the UK and Ireland now having their own drone fleet.  Using UAVs to carry out searches for missing people and offenders is one obvious use but they are also being flown as part of risk assessment and planning projects, to gather aerial photography as evidence and as over-watch for high risk tactical operations.

Search and rescue teams have also begun to incorporate drones into their process and procedures after a series of early trials proved just how effective they can be.  In fact, drone manufacturer DJI carried out a series of experiments regarding how UAVs can aid in life saving rescue work and released the results on their YouTube Channel in September 2018.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMPhtDHxVaE

Essex Coastguard

Coastguard rescue teams in Essex have recently embarked upon their own twelve-month pilot of drone use. They’ll be deploying drones for a number of different tasks from providing situational awareness and risk assessment data to life saving teams, to carrying out searches for missing persons.  At the end of the trial period, their benefits will be assessed, and decisions made as to their ongoing usage.  They’re never intended to replace the coastguard helicopters but could provide a valuable additional tool to helping to keep the coastline safer for everyone.

Brecon Mountain Rescue

The Brecon Mountain Rescue team has recently joined the ranks of drone users having completed training for three pilots with a further four planning to qualify in the near future.  The seven-strong team will be available to operate two waterproof drones on call outs to help them search dangerous areas with difficult terrain as well as delivery emergency medical supplies directly to casualties.  With more and more people keen to explore the outdoors, they are facing increased demand for their life-saving services and so any technology that has the potential to make their work faster, safer and more efficient can only be seen as a positive step.

UAVs are ideally placed to offer situational awareness to emergency rescue teams.  Being able to scan large areas, pinpoint where help is needed and assess risks in real time, means that targeted, well-equipped and informed teams can be deployed to where they’re needed faster.  Here, drones can actually play a very real part in assisting the dedicated teams in saving lives.

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About the Author: DSR Journalist

Harrison Green