Police officers and a drone helped find a vulnerable missing woman who had collapsed and was unconscious in a Nottinghamshire field.
Officers began searching an area near Kilton Forest Golf Club and the Bassetlaw Showground but were faced with a nearly impossible task due to the pitch black conditions at that time of night and the sheer scale of the area.
A police drone was called in and began to hover over the area at around 1.30am on Wednesday morning.
Using its thermal imaging camera the force’s newest drone was able to identify a human heat source and led officers to it.
The missing woman was located and taken to hospital for potentially life-saving medical treatment.
Chief Pilot PC Vince Saunders said: “Our drone capability has many uses – from crowd control to monitoring and assisting with arresting suspects. However, where they really excel is in finding missing people quickly and efficiently.
“In this case the officers on the ground were faced with a race against time to locate a woman they feared could come to immediate harm. Faced with darkness and a huge potential search area an aerial search was really their only option.
“With time of the essence our pilot rushed to the scene and was able to locate the woman almost immediately. I am delighted to hear that she is now safe and well and would like to pay tribute to the skill and professionalism of the officers involved in this search. It really does seem that their actions on the night may have helped to save this woman’s life.”
Nottinghamshire Police’s drones team was established in January 2020 and is based at police headquarters in Arnold. It now has 17 pilots – officers trained to fly in addition to their other duties – and four drones, two main units and two smaller consumer style support units.
They are on alert 24/7 to deploy to anywhere in the county at a moment’s notice, and is also on hand to assist colleagues from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service – giving them potentially life-saving temperature information of building fires.
Wednesday’s operation was the first successful result for the team’s new main drone. The £20,000 DJI Matrice 300 brings considerable improvements in battery life, durability, speed and range and has a thermally equipped radiometric camera capable of a eight times zoom – allowing pilots to get highly detailed images and information from heat sources.
Other recent successes for the Nottinghamshire team include the arrest of a suspect wanted on suspicion of shooting sheep with a cross bow and the seizure of several illegal off-road bikes as part of a wider police operation.