How drones support search and rescue missions

During search and rescue operations, every second counts. And today, drones are playing an increasingly vital role in supporting missions all across the world to help save the lives of those in distress. In fact, according to DJI’s Drone Rescue Map, over 1000 people have reportedly been rescued as a result of drone deployment to aid search and rescue efforts to date.

Below we take a look at some of the ways drones can effectively support search and rescue operations.

1. They can get to work quickly

Most drones are lightweight and portable, allowing for quick deployment in emergency situations, even in the most remote or challenging terrains. This allows vital support to be delivered quickly, ensuring the best chances of a successful rescue.

2. They can greatly increase awareness of issues

They can enhance the awareness of rescue teams on the ongoing and emerging situation through the transmission of real-time video feeds.

3. They can provide quick aerial reconnaissance

Drones equipped with cameras and sensors can quickly survey vast areas, providing real-time aerial imagery and invaluable insight to search teams on the ground. In doing so, they can save precious time and resources by helping search teams to identify potential hazards, locate survivors, or detect signs of distress.

4. They can offer thermal imaging capabilities

Some drones, like the DJI Mavic 3 Thermal (M3T), are equipped with thermal cameras, enabling heat signatures to be detected. This feature is particularly useful in locating missing people, as it can help identify body heat even in low-light or obscured conditions, such as thick foliage or darkness. Whether it’s a lost hiker in a dense forest or a survivor trapped in a collapsed building, drones equipped with thermal imaging can be the difference between life and death.

5. They can optimise search patterns

Some drones can generate detailed maps of the search area, providing critical information about the terrain and its features. They can then be programmed to follow pre-defined search patterns, ensuring systematic coverage of the targeted search area. This automation helps optimise search efforts and increases the likelihood of locating survivors or pin-pointing critical areas for rescue teams to focus on.

6. They can offer remote mapping

Some drones, like the WingtraOne, allow you to create detailed maps of a targeted search area. This provides useful information to support ground-based rescue teams with their planning and co-ordinating activities.

7. They can deliver supplies and equipment

Some drones can transport essential supplies, such as medical kits, food, water or communication devices, to individuals in need or to search teams operating in remote locations. This capability helps sustain survivors until ground-based rescue operations can reach them.