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Scottish Mountain Rescue Adds Drones to its Operations

Search & Rescue Aerial Association - Scotland
Image Credit: Search & Rescue Aerial Association - Scotland

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Scottish Mountain Rescue Adds Drones to its Operations

Drones will be used to find people in the most inaccessible places by Search and Rescue Aerial Association Scotland (SARAA-Scotland) state latest inputs from the Dumbarton reporter UK. A new search and rescue association-Scottish Mountain Rescue carried out a feasibility study with the aim of examining the role of drones – which are also known as Small Unmanned Aircraft or SUAs for short – could help in search and rescue operations reportedly calling drone use the biggest breakthrough in mountain rescue since search dogs were introduced in the 60s. Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team has deployed drones in searches of peaks in its area. Earlier this year, the rescue of a Scottish mountaineer Rick Allen in the Himalayas was aided by the use of a drone.

Identifying a clear need for drone use SARAA-Scotland now has one drone that is operational and hopes to have another five in action by early next year. The drones by York-based Flyby Technology will be used to train the association’s volunteers by ex-military or are civilian aviation instructors.

Unmanned aerial vehicles have been used on various occasions in mountain search and rescues in recent years. In September this year Search and Rescue Aerial Association Scotland (SARAA-Scotland) supported a search for a missing person in East Lothian in September which involved a team of drone pilots has formally joined Scottish Mountain Rescue (SMR).

Shortly after the incident, the association became a full member following a vote at SMR’s annual general meeting. SMR’s other members include Aberdeen, Arran, Braemar, Borders, Dundonnell, Oban and Skye MRTs and an RAF team, two search and rescue dog association teams and three police Scotland teams as well.

While a top quality drone equipped with a thermal camera and the latest high technology zoom camera would cost £30,000. Considering SARAA-Scotland’s aim of eventually providing cover for most of Scotland, presently, it is looking more towards the middle-cost drones to cover as much of the country as they can and have chosen to use a drone that was bought for £3,500. Tom Nash who served 15 years in the RAF as a Tornado navigator operating thermal cameras, targeting systems and weapons will be SARAA-Scotland’s trained operator assures that the volunteers will be trained to the very latest rules and regulations.

Affiliated to Scottish Mountain Rescue SARAA-Scotland, has now also put in grant applications in a bid to buy more drones and is simultaneously also looking out for businesses or individuals to sponsor them. Its chairman, Dave Wright, said: “We will be recruiting people to fly the drones who are already mountain rescue team members – people with a search and rescue background who can look after themselves out there. “It’s now a case of getting the funds to buy the kit we need, distribute it and train the members and at the start of next year it’s hoped we will have six pilots being trained by Flyby.”

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