Drones Becoming an Essential Part of Search and Rescue

Last year I read a news story about an 82-year-old Virginia man with dementia and hearing loss who had gone missing. Police and hundreds of volunteers, a chopper and search dogs began combing dense woods around the man’s home.

After three days, many thought the rescue operation would turn into a search for a body.

When amateur drone pilot David Lesh heard about the search, he took to the skies using a first-person-view (FPV) controller. Flying about 200 feet above a nearby soybean field, he combed the enormous area for signs of life. In what would have taken hours for searchers to accomplish on foot, he covered the entire area in minutes. As he was completing the last segment of the survey, he found the man, dehydrated and dizzy from lack of food and water, but still alive.

Now that Valmie’s drone technology has reached several milestones in its development, we are pleased to begin exploring how Valmie can play a role in this essential humanitarian service. Valmie is currently in talks with a local search and rescue (SAR) organization.

This SAR is a highly qualified group of volunteers dedicated to finding the missing. Some of the members work with canines. They train every week to ensure they are at the top of their game when the need arises.

We seldom think it will happen to us, but if a loved one goes missing or a disaster strikes, organizations such as this SAR are at the front lines. When minutes count, drones and their trained operators can provide situational awareness quickly over a large area, reducing the time and the number of searchers needed to locate and rescue an injured or lost person.

Unmanned aerial vehicles provide cost effective, real time visual data and imaging, day or night in remote or dangerous areas without risk to searchers.

Learn more about your local search and rescue organization and spread the word about the work they are doing. Don’t forget to put in a mention about the “eyes in the sky” that drones are now adding to this indispensable public-spirited service.