One of the little told stories during the RIM fire was the use a military drone to survey the flow path of the fire as it continued to creep east. Piloted by military personnel in Southern California, the craft provided video insight into what was happening behind the fire lines.
The story was only briefly mentioned in the media. It contributed to stopping this horrendous fire. So why not use drones in the park for search and rescue? A full-sized predator drone (as used in the Middle east) is millions of dollars pus the operating cost. However, many “civilian” remotely pilot vehicles are available that could provide an extra “eye-in-the-sky” during YOSAR operations.
In November, a woman was missing in the Foresta area. Check out the resources applied to that search: YOSAR, Madera, Fresno, Tuolumne, Kern, Merced, and Mariposa Counties, Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, the California Highway Patrol and the California Office of Emergency Services. Gee, do you think they could have benefitted from a camera several hundred feet about the ground to “look” for the woman? Foresta is pretty flat and not many trees to block ground based crews’ view. But picture a backcountry search. Dozens of rescuers, dogs and specialists searching for days for lost people.
A small drone with a simple camera could link back real-time images on steep terrain and inaccessible areas to spot an injured hiker. A range of drones are NOW available on the commercial market – at ALL price ranges. The UAV designed Penguin B, can stay up 54 hours!!! I think its worth a look by the NPS.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” – Ronald Reagan
MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com