Tech Byte: How drones are helping rescue efforts

Drones are now giving law enforcement an extra set of eyes in the sky. They came in handy recently, when a teen with special needs in got lost in the mountains of Murphy, North Carolina. When the Hiwassee Dam Fire Department got the call that he had wandered away from home, they were able to respond quickly.

Chief Chad McNabb of the Hiwassee Dam Fire Department was blown away at how fast and effective the drones made his search. He says, “Five years ago, we would have never dreamed this was possible. I knew the technology existed, I’d never been exposed to it to this extent. But now that I’ve seen it — highly impressed. I think everyone on the scene was impressed with it as well.”

This rescue had the potential to be very difficult. Nobody was sure where the juvenile was last seen or what direction he was walking in. Chief McNabb described the five square mile search area as rugged terrain. Without the help of drones, a search like this would have taken ‘hundreds of people’.

Thanks to the new technology, the search only took first responders two hours. The fire department used three drones to fly over grid patterns, and detect heat signatures to find the teen. Once the drones found his heat signature, they were able to mark the lost teenager’s location and rescue him. McNabb remarked on the precision these drones are capable of, saying, “We would have basically filled the woods full of folks doing grid searches and just hoped someone stumbled up on him.” The drones saved them a lot of time, and manpower.

Categories: Tech Byte