Tuesday, 10 October 2023, 22:29
A drone played a vital role in the rescue of a runner who had fallen and fractured his leg while out running in Marbella's Sierra Blanca mountains on the morning of Sunday 8 October.
It took little more than two hours after a call was made to the emergency services for firefighters, Civil Guards, Civil Protection volunteers and medical staff to get the man to the town's Costa del Sol hospital where he was treated for his injury.
The device monitored and recorded the entire operation and helped with the transport of the injured man on a stretcher along a complicated route to an ambulance.
The video and photographs accompanying this article were taken by the drone, which was being controlled by Carlos Lozano, a police officer from Benahavís who is also a drone pilot and instructor and specialises in search and rescue missions in mountainous and remote areas.
The injured man who is in his 30s was able to give his location, enabling firefighters to locate him quickly. The man had to be carried down a steep, rocky section of the mountain on a stretcher. Emergency services had to carry out the rescue on “difficult terrain" according to Lozano, who was supervising and recording the operation from the highest point in the area to ensure that the drone had visibility and coverage.
The drone operator was in charge of supervising the transfer of the injured person to ensure that they were following the safest route and to alert of possible problems. It also alerted the ambulance team via a loudspeaker that the rescue team was approaching the pick-up point. "As I already had the equipment prepared, I arrived on the scene very quickly", Lozano added.
The role of drones in mountain rescue operations is "very important", said Lozano. "We have a bird's eye view," he added. In this case the injured person was able to provide his location, but in situations where the location of the victim is unknown, it is the drone which combs the mountain to find them using thermal or infrared cameras.
At the end of last year Carlos Lozano participated in a search and rescue mission to locate a Ukrainian hiker lost on the peak of La Concha. However, sadly on that occasion and after two days of searching, the hiker’s body was found. Lozano added that drones can carry water, food and even a mobile phone to victims before the rescue team arrives, as well as relaying messages to them via a loudspeaker.
Drones have also become indispensable in controlling wildfires through surveillance and prevention missions as they can check the state of firebreaks or carry cameras that measure the temperature to quantify the risk of fire. Drones can also help pinpount the outbreaks, determine the burnt area and the predict the trajectory of the fire and warn of danger.
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