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DJI Drone Rescues Missing People

Watch footage showing the moment a DJI drone and thermal camera helped rescue six missing people from treacherous duneland - finding them in less than five minutes.

  • Southport Lifeboat crew used DJI M210 and XT2 thermal camera to find missing people - watch the video of the rescue;
  • The drone found the group in less than five minutes - far quicker than a traditional on-the-ground search;
  • The drone covered large areas of complex terrain - saving time and reducing manpower. 

This footage shows the moment a search and rescue drone helped rescue six missing people from treacherous duneland - finding them in less than five minutes.

With night falling and under the cover of darkness, Southport Lifeboat crew deployed its DJI M210 V2 and XT2 thermal camera to scan the vast area of complex terrain in Ainsdale.

Just four and a half minutes after takeoff, operators saw a flash of light from a mobile phone belonging to the stranded group. The team homed in to confirm it was the missing party, and subsequently escorted ground crews to the exact location to bring the people home safely.

It would have taken at least an hour to conduct the same search using traditional foot-patrol.

Rescue Is An Example Of Drones For Good

Paul Shorrock, Coxswain at Southport Lifeboat, said: “This rescue showed the benefits of using drones for search and rescue. It was definitely an example of drones for good - dramatically increasing the speed, and success of the search, when time is of the essence.

“This area is vast and highly challenging, with high dunes, marshland, gullies, plenty of bushes and brambles, and in places it has become deep in water from recent rain. The missing people were not from the area and had become disorientated in the dark.

“Searching this type of area, with its size and difficult terrain - not to mention at night and when you don’t know the exact location of your target - would typically take a lot of time and manpower.

“But the drone provided a fast and streamlined search and rescue tool, allowing us to get thermal imaging on scene and quickly scan vast areas from above. This invaluable situational awareness helped us locate the missing people and direct our ground crews accordingly for a more efficient response.

“Being able to switch thermal colour palettes while conducting the mission was also incredibly valuable. For instance, black hot - which displays warmer objects as black and cooler objects as white - provided a very clear picture of the missing people. The ability to switch palettes provides flexibility, tweaking the settings depending on what you are looking for, the temperature, and other factors.

“Thanks to the drone, we were able to find the group in less than five minutes. Yes, it was a fairly easy incident, aided by those who wanted to be found, but the drone still saved lots of time and effort in an all-out foot search in the dark. Traditionally, this type of search would take an hour, at least.”

A Fleet Of DJI Drones

Southport Lifeboat crew is tasking drones to an increasing number of incidents. In fact, Paul admits that shore-based incidents now account for the majority of our work - even more than going out in the lifeboat.

The team has four pilots and three DJI drones: The M210 V2, a Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual, and a Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 which is largely used for training.

Paul said: “The Matrice is our primary, go-to drone, but the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual - which has thermal capabilities and is extremely quick to deploy - is a great back-up.

“For example, during the rescue at Ainsdale dunes, we had a slight delay in deploying the Matrice, so we initially sent up the Dual to get a drone out quickly, and then we subsequently utilised the M210-XT2.”

Southport Lifeboat has turned to heliguy™ to build its drone programme, utilising our ecosystem of services for hardware supply, technical support, and drone training.

Paul said: “The heliguy™ experience has been excellent from the start, and the heliguy™ team are always on hand to provide help, advice, equipment and technical support whenever we have needed it.”

About Southport Lifeboat

Run by the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust, Southport Lifeboat provides a lifeboat and land based search and rescue service around the Sefton coastline.

Independent of the RNLI, the Trust relies on donations and fundraising to support itself to provide a first class life saving service in an area of coast and water covering between the River Mersey and the River Ribble, and up to 25 miles offshore, including Southport Marine Lake.

For more information and to make a donation, visit the Southport Lifeboat website.


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