Dartmoor team will make TV lottery appeal to buy rescue drone


Bob Smith,

A rescue team will make a television appeal to help it buy an innovative piece of equipment to help searches.

Dartmoor Search & Rescue Team Plymouth will appear on ITV’s People’s Millions lottery aiming to win £50,000 to buy a rescue drone.

The team said it believes it would be the first globally to use the small unmanned helicopter routinely to help it find casualties in its area.

Roger Hyde of the volunteer team said: “Some years ago I worked in disaster area surveillance, and used similar devices overseas with excellent results.

“I know that our winning this competition, its implementation working with local emergency services and military support would present a significant and inspiring blueprint for other teams in the UK, also internationally.”

Six organisations in the South-West will battle for a share of the lottery cash. The rescue team volunteers have filmed a TV appeal attended by local emergency services, military advisors and the drone supplier which will be aired on ITV West Country on Monday 24 November. The public is being encouraged to vote on the night.

Jonathan Benzie, team search manager, said: “The use of a drone will significantly enhance our capabilities when searching for missing or vulnerable people.

“Having a night vision camera is a particular benefit as many of our searches are at night, and currently we are limited to what our search teams can see with torches. A night vision camera greatly increases our field of vision.

“The drone also allows us to search dangerous areas like quarries, crag faces and river valleys that may be difficult or dangerous for foot teams to search. Furthermore, we often require the services of a police helicopter or a military search and rescue helicopter to search areas.

“The drone can provide similar capabilities, and therefore we can reduce the cost to the taxpayer by using the drone instead.

“I am convinced that by having the drone as part of our search capability, we can find missing people faster, and then ensure that we bring them back to safety as promptly as possible.

Roger Hyde, who is project leader and team trustee said: “This is an inspiring project, led by volunteers from the local community, helping save the lives and relieve the suffering of the people of the local community and beyond.

“The drone will simply help them do this more quickly. We believe this will be the first hi-tech commercial drone to be integrated in this way by such a team in the world and as such, will serve as a blueprint for similar technology to be implemented globally.

“Local and national support for this project will benefit similar teams and communities globally in time.”

Members of the public can vote by phone for the rescue drone project. Details are on theDartmoor Search & Rescue Team Plymouth website.

The £50,000 budget for the rescue drone includes not only purchase of the equipment including dual high-definition and night vision capability, but also all training for the team to qualify them to operate the drone commercially ensuring the highest level of privacy and safety during its life-saving operations.

Military partners have offered the team their facilities to assist with training and implementation, ensuring further adoption of this technology globally will benefit from the highest level of input promised to the team if they succeed in the competition.

The Big Lottery Fund, the largest contributor of National Lottery good-cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40 per cent of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.