May 06, 2016 - 6:30 PM
PENTICTON - Penticton Search and Rescue have a new tool to add to their rescue kits following a demonstration session with the RCMP earlier this week.
Search and Rescue spokesperson Randy Brown says the group liasoned with members of the RCMP at the Trout Creek trestle on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail on May 2 to see if drones could assist them in their operations.
“The RCMP have a drone program we became aware of. There is no official search and rescue program for drones in B.C., but the police have trained observers and pilots, so we reached out to Southeast District Headquarters, connected with their drone program and asked for an orientation,” Brown says.
Two drones were used to demonstrate how they could search cliffs and crevasses, enabling the remotely controlled machines to do what might otherwise be a risky and time consuming search and rescue effort using personnel.
“We saw some great applications where it would increase the safety factor for us,” he says, adding search and rescue technicians also familiarized themselves with the drone’s capabilities in the air.
The search and rescue team isn’t considering getting their own drones just yet, noting the RCMP generally task the group to incidents, so the RCMP resources can be made available. The drones needed for search and rescue applications are more complex and expensive than ones available to the general public.
“The way we look at it, it’s just one more tool in the toolkit we can use,” Brown says.
Kamloops Search and Rescue teamed up with a local company to test drones equipped with infrared cameras last year.
Penticton Search and Rescue is expecting calls to increase as summer approaches. The group has been called out 13 times so far this year to locate lost snowmobilers, missing persons, provide medical assistance, evacuations and to rescue a stranded individual. The volunteers answered 54 calls in 2015.
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