WEST Cork Civil Defence Officer Niall Twomey says drones are a ‘game changer’ when it comes to the search for missing persons.
Mr Twomey explained that the team’s acquisition of a drone would be of huge assistance to local units in West Cork, offering support to agencies such as An Garda Siochana and the Irish Coastguard in searches for missing persons.
Civil Defence Ireland gave a demo to West Cork’s emergency services in Lough Hyne last week on the uses of drones in such operations.
Civil Defence Ireland has developed 9 SUA search teams which are deployed geographically in accordance with the Emergency Management regions. There are currently two SUA teams for the southern region, based in Skibbereen and Kinsale.
Each team consists of two SUA pilots, fully licensed and accredited with the Irish Aviation Authority, after a comprehensive eight-weekend training schedule, which consists of unmanned aircraft maintenance, flight regulation theory and practical piloting tasks.
It is intended to train additional volunteers as observers and co-pilots in the near future.
‘It’s an ideal resource in areas like West Cork where you have a lot of upland terrain and rocky headlands as well as huge stretches of coastline – the drone can get into these places much faster than searchers on the ground and do it safely too so it can be a huge assistance,’ explained Niall.
Pilots George Vladisavjevic and Tim McKnight put their Typhoon H drone through its paces for an audience of various emergency service personnel. The Civil Defence plans to spend a further €70,000 in enhancing the service over the coming months.