Leicestershire was severely impacted by the recent flooding, meaning many areas were inaccessible on foot. Having an eye in the sky during searches ensured situational awareness and helped keep teams on the ground safe.
Leicestershire Search and Rescue is a team of highly trained and dedicated volunteers who work alongside Leicestershire Police to locate vulnerable missing persons and preserve life. We provide search personnel, search management, drones, search dogs, swift water rescue and advanced medical care along with other services.
We have been deploying drones on searches for three years and are developing our capabilities to provide adverse weather support at major incidents.
As Drone Lead for a team of GVC qualified pilots flying under an Operational Authorisation, I strive to find new ways of working to provide drone support for foot teams working in challenging conditions.
We’re currently trialling the use of photogrammetry software on scene to process images captured on semi-autonomous flight missions.
This provides the incident command team with an accurate map of the area to reflect the changing environmental conditions on the ground. The maps can be annotated and shared across the team, while the images can be referred to later for a more forensic analysis of the search area.
The drone team works closely alongside our newly formed swift water team to identify potential hazards. Footage from the drone is displayed on screen in the specially adapted 4×4 so it can be viewed by members of the incident command team. This provides intelligence to swift water colleagues in real time – crucial in rapidly developing situations such as rising flood water which could prove dangerous within minutes.
With climate change bringing increased adverse weather challenges, Leicestershire Search and Rescue will continue to reflect, grow and adapt so we can best serve our local communities across Leicestershire and Rutland.