Cape Town - The drone project launched by the province’s Emergency Medical Services has proved to be a success.
The project was launched in December last year to assist in search and rescue operations at sea and in mountains, as well as in efforts to deal with road and rail accidents, and to assist authorities with inspections during major events.
EMS drone project leader Fabian Higgins said: “Time is critical in any emergency medical situation, and utilising drones when responding to such incidents will minimise the risk of fatalities or the chances of injuries becoming worse.
“When responding to mountain calls and sea rescues, we usually utilise helicopters. The drones will assist when adverse weather prevents the use of helicopters in certain areas.”
The project’s first mission, in Rooi-Els on January 28 this year, saw a Western Cape Government Health (WCGH) drone involved in a thorough search for a man who had jumped off a cliff into the sea.
WCGH EMS spokesperson Deanna Bessick said: “Two thorough flight searches along the coastline were conducted but unfortunately the team could not trace the patient.
“However, during the second mission on February 10, 2021, the team was able to rescue a 21-year-old male who went off the hiking path on Lions Head, close to the Clifton Crest Route, and got stuck. The incident was logged at 10.35am and the drone located the 21-one-year-old male at 11.43am.
“The rescue team members were guided to the location by the rescue technician. The team escorted the male down the mountain, and utilised one set of ropes to abseil down a set of cliffs. Fortunately, they were able to ensure that the male reached the bottom of the mountain safely.”