Drones are increasingly becoming part of everyday life, with major industries having adopted their use over recent years. Construction, agriculture, insurance and infrastructure building are just a few examples. Drones are also being used to great effect in the world of search and rescue, and this is helping to improve the profile of the technology with the general public.
The value of drones for humanitarian aid was recognised some time ago, and there are numerous examples where their use has saved and protected human lives. Earthquake and flood zones are an obvious scenario where drones for good can help. When it’s not possible or unsafe to enter an area, drones are the perfect tool to assess damage and look for survivors remotely. They don’t need take off or landing zones like manned aircraft, and they can be deployed within hours. Drones are also being used to deliver medicine and other critical supplies into areas cut-off after natural disasters.
On a more local level, search and rescue teams and willing volunteers are also using drones for good in the UK. In April of this year Derby Mountain Rescue used an infrared camera drone to locate a cocker spaniel that had fallen off a path in the Peak District. A member of the team was then guided down to rescue and recover the beloved pet, much to the owner’s delight. This all took place in a matter of hours - timing is critical in search and rescue where a person or animal may be injured.
UK Police Forces have also embraced the power of drones for finding missing and vulnerable people. Lincolnshire Police Force has used them since 2017 and now has a team of fifteen drone operators. In one case a search and rescue drone pilot found a 75 year-old lady with dementia. Thermal imaging was used to trace her as she struggled across a field, fell and got back up again.The pilot guided officers on the ground to find the lady, who was then brought to safety.
Drone dog searches are often carried out by willing volunteers, and this is a great example of drone operators helping the local community. Phil James, from Nottinghamshire, runs the dog search and rescue charity Drone to Home. Incredibly Phil has taken place on over a thousand successful drone dog searches.