A vulnerable missing man was found in a cold and dark field and given the help he needed – thanks to the intervention of a high-tech police drone and its pilot.
Officers from Nottinghamshire Police’s drones unit were called at around 10.30pm on Monday to help search farmland near Mattersey Thorpe in the far north of the county.
The man had been reported missing from an address nearby earlier on in the evening and officers were extremely concerned for his welfare.
After a thorough aerial search conducted in darkness, the man was spotted on the edge of a field and officers led towards him.
The man was taken to hospital for treatment but was not seriously harmed.
PC Vince Saunders, chief drone pilot at Nottinghamshire Police, said: “It was freezing cold last night and we had reason to believe this man may be seriously unwell.
“The officers on the ground only had a vague idea of where he may be, but had no hope of finding him with a traditional ground search in those conditions
“Using the drone’s thermal imaging camera, the pilot was able to identify the man on the edge of a field.
“On this occasion the search was complicated by the sheer number of heat signals given off by a flock of sheep in the same field, but he was soon found and given the support he needed.
“As police officers we’re not just here to arrest and punish people; we are also here to help people in their most vulnerable moments when they need our help. Monday’s rescue was the latest in a long line of incidents that show just how impactful drone technology can be in helping us to find people when they go missing from home.
The drones team, made up of 17 volunteer pilots and four drones, is a resource shared with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and is on hand 24/7 to carry out pre-planned and emergency response operations.
Typical operations include finding missing people, evidence gathering and supporting the arrest of criminal suspects.
Police forces across the UK have been using a variety of platforms to give aerial views of people and events since the 1920s – from airships and fixed-wing aeroplanes to helicopters and drones.