B.C. gives OK to drone pilot project for search and rescue in Kamloops

FILE PHOTO - Kamloops Search and Rescue members took part in a training session with Hummingbird Drones on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. Drones will be used by the Kamloops volunteers as part of a one-year pilot project announced today, Dec. 9, 2016.
Image Credit: Mike Ritcey

VICTORIA - Drones will be used by search-and-rescue crews in two communities in British Columbia as part of a one-year pilot project.

The drones will be used in Kamloops and Coquitlam with the blessing of Emergency Management B.C.

The provincial government says the devices have the potential to help emergency management personnel and are increasingly being used by public safety agencies across North America.

Emergency Management says it will ensure the drones are used in ways that consider privacy and Transport Canada regulations.

Alan Hobler, president of Kamloops Search and Rescue, says in the media release the group has been testing and training with drones.

They can "be a more-effective means of searching terrain that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to search by traditional ground searchers," he said in the release. "Searcher safety is paramount for us and now we have a new tool that we can use in places or circumstances that may pose a risk to our searchers."

Kamloops Search and Rescue and local startup Hummingbird Drones partnered on a training mission in November, 2015 that had the company try out infrared imaging to locate searchers and subjects in the bush.

Tom Zajac, vice-president of Coquitlam Search and Rescue, says the organization is always looking at using new technologies and techniques to improve its search capabilities or reducing risks to people involved in search and rescue operations.

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