ToolsNotToys: Blog Post #6
We’re going deep into the vault for this installment of #ToolsNotToys, all the way back to a drone rescue executed in the frigid wilderness of Saskatchewan, Canada back in May of 2013. Obviously, drone technologies and the drone industry as a whole have advanced enormously in the past 7 years, but this particular rescue is likely one of the most impactful in the realm of public safety. According to DJI databases, this is the first ever recorded life-saving rescue by a drone.
Local authorities were contacted late at night regarding a rollover car crash, but no driver was to be found when emergency personnel arrived on the scene. Ground search teams were immediately deployed to scour the surrounding woods within a 200 meter radius. After their efforts proved futile, authorities called in an air ambulance helicopter equipped with night-vision equipment and high-powered searchlights. After searching an area of about a kilometer radius around the crash site, no sign was found of the missing driver.
Now close to 3 a.m., authorities receive a phone call from the man they’re searching for. The 25-year-old man had suffered a head injury in the crash, wandered away from the crash site in search of help, and became disoriented. He wasn’t able to provide any direction or sense of his location to the authorities, and also informed them that he was only dressed in a T-shirt and pants.
With temperatures nearing freezing, authorities on the scene chose to deploy their drone, a UAV equipped with FLIR thermal imaging technology. Within the half hour, the drone detected a small heat signature about 200 meters away from where the man’s cell phone had last pinged. Fire and Rescue members followed the drone pilot’s directions to the location of the heat signature, where they found the man lying unresponsive at the base of a tree next to a snowbank.
The man was rushed to Saskatoon City Hospital where he made a full recovery after several days.