By Cam Fortems
Kamloops This Week
Kamloops Search and Rescue is one of two groups in B.C. licensed to use drones to search for missing people.
The provincial emergency management agency approved Kamloops and Coquitlam on one-year pilot programs to utilize unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, in real-life searches.
The approval comes after testing this year in Kamloops, which used local firm Hummingbird Drones for equipment and to pilot the drones.
“I’ve been really impressed with the results we’ve seen,” Kamloops Search and Rescue manager Alan Hobler. “We can use drones to go into areas hazardous to searchers.”
Those include steep and rugged terrain.
Hobler said they are also potentially useful to locate people who are distraught and who may act erratically if they are approached.
“We do a lot of searches for despondent people and that can be dangerous,” he said.
Drones can be equipped with infrared cameras that can be used to find people via body heat they emit. Hobler said the technology is particularly useful in winter, something he called a “huge advantage.
“They really pop out.”
Unlike helicopters, the machines can also be flown at night and can be safely operated closer to the ground.
Hobler said the provincial approval also extends to utilizing drones to help other search and rescue groups in the region.