Two states, four missing kayakers: Rescued by drones in 5 mins

rescue drones

There is no question that search and rescue drones are incredibly effective at finding missing persons. But it’s not often that you have similar events unfolding 600 miles apart on consecutive nights. But this is exactly what happened in Ohio and North Carolina this week. And both times, disaster was averted with the help of drones.

Drones rescue father and son in Lake County, Ohio

On June 27, the drone team at Lake County, Ohio, was called in at about 11:30 p.m. to assist Madison Police in the search for missing persons. A father and son duo had left to kayak down the Grand River at approximately 4 p.m. and had not returned. Ground crews had been searching for several hours with no success and nightfall, coupled with rough terrain, had slowed down their search.

The rescue team wanted to focus on a heavily wooded area with limited access for ground search along the Grand River. And so two teams of drone operators were tasked with searching up and downriver using Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced and Matrice drones with thermal sensors and spotlights.

Since the river was isolated on both sides with steep cliffs measuring almost 140 feet on each side, so there was little room for error. Flights were made at 220 feet above ground level to avoid trees or wires.

And within five minutes of launch time, the missing father and son were located in the middle of the river on the island! The drone team notified their location to the ground-based units, who proceeded to rescue the duo using kayaks. Watch the video of the rescue:

Drone rescues two kayakers on French Broad River, North Carolina

On June 28, at around 9 p.m., the Connestee Fire Rescue were dispatched to look for two kayakers that had missed their stop on the French Broad River.

Due to darkness quickly setting in, the search crews decided to use the DJI M300 drone with Z20T thermal camera to attempt to locate the missing persons.

Roughly 5 and a 1/2 minutes after launch, the kayakers were located at the edge of a field beside the river. Ground units rushed to the location and transported the duo back to meet the rest of their party.

Connestee Fire Rescue team concedes that considering it was near total darkness in that area, it would have been extremely difficult to locate the missing persons without a thermal camera scanning the region from an aerial vantage point.

Search and rescue drones: a revolution

With thousands of public safety agencies all over the world using drones now, you can see hundreds of cases like these on the Drone Rescue Map created by DJI.

As Adam Lisberg, corporate communications director at DJI, points out:

10 years ago, these folks would have spent the night stranded in the dark, hoping rescuers would eventually find them in the daytime. Today, even the smallest rural volunteer squad has tools to fly like a bird and find people in pitch black. It’s a revolution happening right under our noses. People all over the world owe their lives to drones – and to the smart engineers who have made drones so powerful, easy, and affordable that anyone can use them.

Read more: Drone pilot’s horrific discovery may help solve 2009 missing person case

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