It certainly wouldn’t be unusual to open a newspaper or turn on the TV and hear a bad a news story about a drone. From endangering aircraft to dropping drugs into prison, there seems to be no end of coverage about how UAVs are something to be alarmed about.
Of course, if you peek behind the headlines, the vast majority of these problems are caused by pilots flying illegally but it’s not surprising that this does cause problems for safe and legal drone pilots as they go about their business.
So it is always good when a positive story comes across the DSR news desk and we’re pleased to say that these are becoming more regular. We believe that the UK public are becoming increasingly aware of organisations such as DSR who guarantee safe and legally qualified pilots. It’s our sincere hope that the increased profile given to the drone industry by the likes of Peter Jones and his Jessops team, will mean that people will come to realise over time that there are so many positive things that UAV technology can accomplish.
Search and rescue is one area where drones can provide a rapid response to time critical situations. This can be achieved at a fraction of the cost of traditionally deployed manned aircraft and while cost may not seem like a factor when it comes to a life or death situation, controllers of a public purse with limited funds to manage would probably beg to differ.
Drones are perfect for search and rescue operations because of their ability to live stream images to personnel on the ground, covering enormous areas at speed to allow targeted deployment to complete the task at hand.
One recent story to hit the headlines was of a 16 year old rape victim who managed to call the Lancashire police to give a general description of her location. Rapid deployment of a drone equipped with a thermal imaging camera allowed the operator to guide ground based officers directly to the victim and her attacker – a speedy arrest and extraction of the young victim so that she could receive the help and support she needed as soon as possible.
However, it is not just police forces that are using drones to make completing their jobs faster, easier and safer. Many fire services also have made a UAV investment with a bird’s eye view of a situation proving invaluable in terms of assessing risk and appropriate response. The eye in the sky can present a more complete picture of an incident – from a fire to a traffic collision – and ultimately be used to not only made decisions on the best course of action to rescue those involved but protect emergency service personnel by identifying any otherwise hidden risks. Footage can also be reviewed as a training aid to design safer strategies for the future.
The RNLI, with their vast expanses of land and water to cover, have also recently been testing the power of drones in a variety of real life search and rescue scenarios – from shoreline searches as well as off-shore operations.
Mountain rescue teams made headlines in July 2018 when a drone was deployed to find the lost climber, Rick Allen. Sadly presumed lost by his party, after sighting of a large shape on the mountainside by the expedition cook, a drone was sent to investigate further. Discovering that the ‘shape’ was indeed the missing mountaineer, Mountain Rescue teams could be immediately despatched to a targeted rescue operation saving the man’s life with minimal risk to the rescue personnel.
So it is clear that although a large amount of the drone’s potential is yet to be harnessed, that search and rescue is one area where unmanned aerial vehicles can make a critical, even life saving, difference.