Search and Rescue Missions: A Matter of Life and Death!

Even many skeptics have to admit that there are climatic changes that have adversely hit our planet earth. Therefore many regions of the country face drastic calamities such as earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, and hurricanes, which cause serious injuries and heavy loss of life. Many of these calamities leave the victims stranded in places where they have little or no access to food, water, medical supplies, medicine, and with no escape – awaiting search and rescue.

A description of disaster!

Fortunately now we have technology that can make a life-saving difference in such a case.

The capabilities of remote-controlled aerial vehicles (UAVs), that to search large areas quickly and efficiently with high definition video and thermal video regardless of the conditions on the ground, make search and rescue missions increasingly successful.

Most people don’t like change in general, and for many, when it comes to technology, it may be even less popular than any other field or endeavor. But when it comes to drones, many, especially of the older generation, still consider them new and therefore somewhat suspect. Drones are hardly new since they have been around for at least 30 years. As a result, many who are still skeptical of drones do see them as most useful when it comes to search and rescue operations.

After all, who can be against saving lives?

It is true, drones save lives, and they do so tirelessly!

We often say, “Timing is everything!”

That is not always true, but when it comes to search and rescue, it often is.

Drones can be used by search and rescue teams to find people quickly using aerial thermography to identify heat signatures, and they can do this so much faster than a team of people searching on the ground. Furthermore, drones can also be helpful in getting an aerial view of an area where a search and rescue mission needs to take place, in order to help guide the work being done by people on the ground.

One poll showed that as much as 83% of people stated they approved of using drones for search and rescue operations thus showing the clear acceptance of this area, however, we anticipate this acceptance of drones will increase exponentially in other areas as well, especially given the “new normal” due to the Coronavirus.

What often takes a team considerable time and effort in reaching a victim through various degrees of terrain that is dangerous and inhospitable is easily and quickly traversed by an eye-in-the-sky drone to a victim. Often timing is of the essence and rescue efforts can be a matter of life and death. Today’s drones are not only able to locate victims, but also deliver first aid on the scene.

A few years ago, many witnessed what a critical role drones played in rescuing people ravaged by fire, flood, or other natural disasters. UAVs can be equipped with sensors like infrared sensors that can be used to locate people in remote areas by their heat signatures. Streaming videos can be used for visual identification of people in distress and GPS information gives rescue personnel the ability to precisely locate them and send in aerial support.

On 9/11 many of us were watching robots on television venturing deeply into the rubble, farther than humans and dogs were able to do.

Drones are ideal methods of helping people in distress in all types of search and rescue such as:

  • Finding missing persons.
  • Avalanche watch on ski slopes.
  • Surveying parks and locating hikers.
  • Searching and surveying disaster zones after earthquakes, flooding and hurricanes.
  • Assisting fire departments in using drones to fly over burning buildings to see the full extent of fire damage.
  • Thermal cameras on drones can be used to see the temperature a fire is generating even when it looks safe.
  • Drones using thermal cameras can be used during the night to find missing persons and also work in disaster zones.
  • In a nuclear accident, drones equipped with cameras and sensors can be deployed to assess contaminated areas.

Quadcopters (unmanned, remote-controlled helicopter) having four rotors) are recommended for being able to map the site of disaster with utmost accuracy and FlyByCopters X8 640 R is recommended by some. The reasons for this are the following:

  • This powerful drone can perform thermal imaging, surveying and mapping.
  • The Waypoints and RTI can be decided beforehand to optimise flight time.
  • The SONY A6000 camera can be used in professional quality photos for creating 3D maps and geotagging images.
  • Thermal Sensors help detect the temperature of the affected areas.
    (“Ten Best Drones for Search and Rescue Operations,” 2019)

Because it is now possible to pack drones, with many sensors, into UAVs, they can be useful in helping to locate and save lives in the midst of natural disasters and they can be used to gather and deliver medical samples (e.g. blood), supplies, and medicine to remote or otherwise unreachable areas in disaster zones.

Drones can help first responders, like police and fire units, figure out where to set up temporary staging areas, and their digital eyes and ears in the sky can spot survivors or even listen for sounds that they make, or pinpoint the location of bodies.

As first responders, with their eyes and ears in the sky, drones have the capability of offering help when it is needed the most.

Even if streets are cluttered with impassable debris, drones can immediately take to the air and begin providing critical data. This kind of instant capability may make the difference of life between death for untold numbers of people.

The number of people to be rescued will rise as more emergency services wake up and get serious about adopting the technology that is now readily available.

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