On the 9th of May the Royal Canadian Mountain Police received a distress call from a driver who had a rollover accident in his car while driving about 5 km far from Saskatchewan but upon arriving at the reported place the rescue team was not able to locate the car’s driver, even after a 200m ground search. The STARS Air Ambulance was then contacted and they performed a scan of the area in a 1 km radius with a night vision equipped helicopter, which has not yielded any results.
Cpl. Doug Green, a Forensic Collision Reconstuctionist, was then called to the scene. Meanwhile, the RCMP received a call from the driver in which he told the rescue team that he was cold and had no idea where he was. The driver was wearing only a T-shirt and pants and he lost his shoes, the temperatures were near freezing at that time. Thanks to this call his GPS coordinates were possible to be retrieved, so the rescue team moved to the new location which was about 2 miles south from the former one.
Cpl. Doug Green tried to direct the driver to the rescue team with a hailer and a siren while STARS continued to search the area, but both efforts met with failure. At that time Cpl. Doug Green decided to launch the UAV, DraganFlyer X4-ES equipped with a FLIR (forward looking infrared camera), and search the area.
Three heat signatures were registered and Cpl. Doug Green directed the rescuers to the first one, about 200m away from the GPS coordinates. The driver was then found curled up in a ball at the base of a tree next to snow bank. He was quickly brought out to the road and was transported to hospital in Saskatoon. If it weren’t for the UAV, it would not be possible to locate the driver before morning.
„To our knowledge, this is the first time that a life may have been saved with the use of a sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial System) helicopter.“
Zenon Dragan, president and founder of the Draganfly company
This is the first official report of a rescue team using a UAV to locate a person in time to save their life. We can only hope that this will only happen more often from now on.