Buxton Mountain Rescue Team, which covers the Peak District National Park in central England, has become the first Mountain Rescue England and Wales team to be given approval by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to use drones during operations.
The approval is the culmination of an 18-month project to raise enough money in donations to buy the necessary equipment and train the team’s new pilots. The £10,000 needed was raised with donations from local councils, individuals and local charitable organizations.
The team can now use drones during operations to search for missing persons in places where access is difficult or unsafe for team members.
The team has eight trained pilots. Team Leader Neil Carruthers, said “The approval from the CAA demonstrates that they have the confidence that the systems and procedures the rescue team has in place are safe and effective.
“I am delighted that we are the first mountain rescue team in England and Wales to successfully gain approval to use drones for search and rescue. The drones will allow the team to search areas such as boulder fields, water margins, moorlands, crags and difficult ground. The drone technology will complement our other search resources such as team members on the ground and the search dogs, all of which have an important part to contribute in search operations”.
“I would like to congratulate all the team who have been involved in the training and especially the pilots who have demonstrated not only a good theoretical knowledge, but also the ability to plan drone operations as well as practical competence in the safe use of our unmanned aerial vehicles”.
The Buxton Mountain Rescue team has been trained to use drones by RUAS Unmanned Aviation Services. The drone pilot school and services provider helped all pilots gain the certification required to fly from the CAA.