September 30, 2016


In any search and rescue operation, time is of essence and every minute or even second makes all the difference – between life and death. Only the best vantage position can really help in such situations, and the best view can only be had from the sky. In order to get a bird’s eye view of where exactly the helpless victims are, and the obstacles that need to be crossed to get to them can only be calculated by deploying a drone at the right time and right place.

Fast & Efficient Rescues

Although airplanes, seaplanes and choppers have been conventionally used in rescue operations, the time it takes to get them flight ready does not serve the purpose on time in many cases. Drones that are deployed during such emergencies can be readied for deployment with hardly any loss of crucial time. Be it heavy rain, sleet, snow, or raging fires, the drone comes back from each rescue mission unscathed. Thanks to the special carbon fiber used for the housing that allows drones to withstand extreme temperatures and other rigors.

Ideal for Firefighting

While firefighters are called in to fight raging fires, they need to enter the danger zone without any forewarning or protection, except for the protective gear they wear. Whereas in the same situation if a micro drone were to be deployed, it makes things a lot easier. The drone can be equipped with several life-saving devices thanks to its design and payload system. Several useful devices like the special gas measurement system helps detect the smoke content or composition in a fire, which can be communicated to the firefighting team standing by and help prevent serious complications like suffocation or even death of the valiant men who tread fearlessly in a fire zone.

Special Drones for Treacherous Terrain

The special thermal image cameras fitted on rescue drones help locate missing persons who may be lost in thick forests or dense fields. Specially designed drones have been used to rescue mountaineers and rock climbers who get stuck in treacherous terrain. Almost inaccessible cliffs are a cakewalk for these drones that can pinpoint the exact spot where a victim is stranded, and organize timely rescues. If not for the drones, there would have probably been several preventable deaths due to inaccessibility by conventional choppers or planes that simply cannot be navigated through such terrain.

Public and Government Agencies Deploy Drones for Rescue Missions

A great instance of drones being put to good use is the proposal of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, which believes that it can save precious time that would have otherwise been wasted while finding people in distress. The sheriff’s department uses a drone or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for locating missing people and in other risky search and rescue operations. Just recently, the search and rescue team spread out in the Idyllwild area looking for a San Diego man who was reported missing while on a hike. The department was forced to use a chopper, though the weather is not always conducive for flying a chopper, unlike a drone that is an all-weather flying machine. The department has already made necessary arrangements to acquire more drones that can stay up in the air for longer periods of time. The drones are also to be fitted with heat sensing equipment and high resolution cameras. These drones will be used exclusively for rescue missions, thus helping to save several lives.

Cost Advantages

The major advantage with using drones for search and rescue operations is the huge difference in cost. Aerial search for missing persons or people trapped in risky terrain through traditional methods like using fixed wing aircraft and choppers is quite expensive. Moreover, the time spent on getting a chopper need not be wasted on an easily maneuverable unmanned aerial vehicle, which is popularly known as a drone. The advantage of maneuverability, that too at a fractional cost of resources, with almost zero risk to life makes the usage of drones the most preferred choice for search and rescue operations. The drones are fitted with high resolution cameras that can be positioned strategically to “look down” directly and survey the area and locate whoever is in distress.

Quick sorties

Moreover, drones have the an average sortie time of 10-20 minutes, which is more than enough to gather vital information required to organize rescue parties carrying emergency medical equipment. The drones are capable of flying complicated flight paths, which is next to impossible by traditional choppers. This not only helps save time, it also helps keep the costs at affordable levels. The time taken by a search party that comprises of several personnel and costly equipment is much more when compared to a drone. Drones can cover extensive, hostile terrain in a matter of minutes. Drones are used to locate victims, as well as for dropping essential items like medicines or food in inhospitable and inaccessible terrain.

Best Drones to Use for Search and Rescue

As a search and rescue team, you need and will require a drone that is able to be customizable to your mission needs.  Some of the customizations that you may be wanting to look at are:

  • Payload capacity
    • How much weight can the drone carry?
  • Camera
    • Is the camera built in or can I replace it with a different camera / lens?
    • What cameras can this drone carry?  The most popular cameras for these types of drones are going to be your higher end GoPros, Sony Alpha  A6000, or the FLIR camera line for thermal reading.
  • What kind of gimbal do you need?
  • Maximum Flight Distance
  • Total Flight Time
    • Remember, the heavier your payload, the shorter your battery life will be.
    • Most drones have a battery life of about 20-30 minutes.

Here are my recommendations:

 Action Drone AD2

Action Drone AD2


Inspire 1 with Z3 7x Zoom Lens

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