Plan to use drones for rescues

Bid to use drones for remote search and rescues

Last updated 12:43 30/03/2014
drones
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

DISCOVERY DRONE: Carl Sheppard operates a discovery drone during a Land Search and Rescue operation.

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Drones could soon be used to help find people missing in remote parts of the country.

Search and rescue (SAR) members from around the top of the South Island have met in North Canterbury this weekend for a LandSAR exercise.

The training session was unusual as the teams were using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) - better known as drones - as part of their live scenarios.

Tasman regional SAR committee chairman John King told Fairfax earlier this week that drones had been raised as an option by the family of German tourist Christian Prehen, who was missing in the Nelson Lakes National Park.

The 19-year-old was last seen on February 25, and search teams spent several days searching for him.

"The SAR members have never used drones at the altitude that would be required for the search in Nelson Lakes. City rules restrict flight to 400 metres, so we need to practice to see if it would be a viable option to use in searches," King said.

A team from Auckland who had drone-flying experience were on site during the exercise, he said.

The training scenario involved volunteers becoming "lost" on Friday, with other teams having to trace and find them yesterday.

The SAR teams were based beside the Clarence River at the Hanmer end of Molesworth Station for exercise.

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- The Press

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