Drones have increasingly become an essential part of the toolkit of Scottish mountain rescue teams, evidenced by the fact that today there are 19 pilots and 21 drones across nine mountain rescue member teams, whereas four years ago there were none.
According to Scotland’s Search and Rescue Aerial Association, drones have a growing role to play in the work of Scottish mountain rescue teams, and the Association currently has eight of its own drones on board to provide pilot training.
Tim Hamlett, Leader of Assynt Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) in the Northwest Highlands, described drones as “a game changer” in terms of missing person searches. Assynt MRT recently used a drone equipped with thermal imaging during the search for a vulnerable missing person.
SARAA Chairman Tom Nash said in a short number of years drone technology have developed from use in daytime only to having zoom-capable cameras, thermal imaging and floodlights for night-time missions.
And with newer machines also able to operate in some wind and rain, Nash has said that they “now have a speaker which allows us to communicate with people who are being rescued”. He said an important role of drones was in checking terrain, such as on cliffs, to help teams plot where it was safe to rope down to casualties.