Taking to the skies with NSARDA

Hello, I’m Harold Burrows and I was absolutely delighted to receive a large box containing a DJI Phantom 2 drone and a Go Pro HERO 3 camera,  donated by O2, for the National Search and Rescue Dog Association (NSARDA).  

NSARDA is a voluntary organisation that supports the Emergency Services in finding and rescuing vulnerable missing people. We’re always looking for ways to improve community safety in an increasingly digital world, so we’re grateful for O2’s technical support and know-how.

O2 have paid for our drone training so we know how to set it up, use and maintain the kit (and most importantly, how to actually fly it!)  We’ve decided to go to the training with a colleague from North East Wales Search and Rescue, so we can both benefit. And it doesn’t stop there – even though the GoPro is an excellent camera that will give us high resolution footage, O2’s residential drone experts are looking to see if we can attach a machine-to-machine camera solution to work with the GoPro to help us live-stream to any mobile device anywhere in the world on data as low as GPRS all the way up to 4G for high resolution work.  This will help our search teams find missing  people over a large area and give real-time information back to base.

I recently came across a story from the US about how a drone hobbyist helped find an 82 year old man, who’d been missing for 3 days.   The owner of a ski and snowboard outerwear company, based in Colorado, had purchased a drone to film aerial ski and snowboard videos.  A helicopter, search dogs and hundreds of volunteers had already been called in to look for the missing man. The drone went up to scan a 200-acre field, from about 200 feet in the air.  I know it would have taken their volunteers hours to search on foot, but in just 20 minutes the drone had combed through most of the field and a man was spotted. Sure enough, it turned out to be the missing 82 year old.  Amazingly he was found to be in good condition, apart from a bit of dehydration.

Closer to home, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) recently used a quadcopter to help search for a missing person in Enniskillen. It took off from the deck of a patrol boat and was tasked with providing an aerial search of local riverbanks and inlets where the water was moving too fast for PSNI dive teams to safely operate.  And I know that a search and rescue drone is also being trialled by a mountain rescue team in the Lake District so I really can’t wait to use our new drone technology, I know it’s going to increase our chances of success and speed up the search process.  We’re always looking for ways to help us win the race to find missing people before it’s too late.

I’ll keep you updated on how it goes and what happens when we start using the technology for real.  Wish us luck!

Harold Burrows MBE, Chairman of NSARDA

Related links

Harold Burrows – National Search and Rescue Dog Association (NSARDA) 

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