Kamloops Search and Rescue drone pilot project extended another year

By Vanessa Ybarra
December 2, 2017 - 3:06pm

KAMLOOPS — Kamloops Search and Rescue says drones have proven to be a valuable tool in the field.

Kamloops and Coquitlam search teams were chosen to test out Hummingbird Drones tools last December as part of a one-year pilot project.

KSAR Search Manager Michelle Liebe says they've used the devices in more than a dozen rescues throughout the greater Kamloops region throughout the last year, in particular in areas with steep terrain.

"We had a few searches where a really steep mountainside was inaccessible to search but it was really easy for the drone to get in there and look."

Liebe says the device's thermal camera that can detect body heat in an area allowed crews to conduct searches faster.

"During an ice rescue, rather than sending all the people to cover all of the lake, we sent the drone out first. The system allowed us to find where there were some different heat signatures in the ice and then we sent people to those areas specifically first which saved a lot of time."

She says the device's real-time mapping system came in handy during a search in Ashcroft when all crews had to rely on was a Google map from 2013.

As for the shortfalls?

"When we get into the -20 and below weather there are some issues with the batteries lasting," said Liebe. "High winds can also be an issue because the drone is only so heavy so it's a little bit limiting"

Hummingbird Drones has extended the pilot project another year.

The company is based out of Kamloops.

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