Drones Help – Saving Life In The Dark

The victim of a car crash was missing – unconscious in a ditch on a cold, dark night. Officers on the UK’s Lincolnshire police force saved his life recently when they found him using a drone and a thermal imaging camera.

A Life In The Dark

It was after midnight when Sgt. Mike Templeman got the call. There had been a car accident on a road in Lincolnshire, a rural area of the United Kingdom, and the driver was now missing. When he arrived on the scene and inspected the interior of the automobile, he found fresh blood. Somewhere out in the dark and freezing night, there was a person in serious trouble. Templeman knew time was of the essence, and so he put in a call to the squad’s drone pilot.

Kev Taylor cut his teeth as a pilot flying for her majesty’s royal air force. For the last several years he has served a volunteer member of the Lincolnshire police department and its resident drone expert. He responded to Templeman’s call and arrived at the scene of the accident to find patrol officers walking both sides of the long country road. It was quite a distance from nearest home, and there was no source of light beyond the flashlights they carried.

A Faint Heat Signature

Taylor quickly set up his DJI Inspire drone, which he had equipped with a Zenmuse XT thermal camera from FLIR. He took off and began to survey the area. Along the side of the road there was a deep ditch. Officers had walked by this area, but it was hard to see all the way to the bottom. With his drone, Taylor picked up a faint heat signature. He thought at first that it must be a puddle of water, as it was too weak a signal to be a human being. But he got on the radio and asked his teammates to double check.

His instincts were right. The heat source turned out to be the driver from the crashed vehicle. He had been lying for the ditch for some time and was hypothermic, his body so frozen it barely gave off enough heat to be detected. Lincolnshire police rushed him to the hospital, and he made a full recovery. “The use of drones is just brilliant,” said Templeman. “It saved someone’s life that night, I have not doubt.”

DJI spent time with the officers involved and discussed how drone technology is becoming an increasingly common and critical tool in the public safety toolkit.

Read more stories about how drone technology are making great contributions to their communities and the environment in our #DronesHelp series.