A special sergeant and chief pilot has lifted the lid on his experience as the operator of a life-saving drone mission in Lincolnshire.
Lincolnshire Police Drone’s special sergeant and chief pilot Kev Taylor told Commercial Drone Professional that the use of a UAV proved vital in dealing with a road traffic incident last month.
Could you outline the events that took place on February 25?
This incident involved a single vehicle road traffic collision which occurred at 02.20am, on The A16 near Ludborough in Lincolnshire. Following a search of the local area the injured driver could not be found so Sergeant Mike Templeman, who was at the scene, requested a drone to attend in order to assist with a search of the local area, given the area was unlit, and extremely rural, which made it difficult for officers to search on foot.
The temperature on the night was below zero and there were concerns that if the driver of the vehicle were injured and required medical attention, that he needed to be located immediately.
I was asked to attend the incident at 02.45 and arrived on scene 35 minutes later. Following pre-flight checks a local area search was carried out using the Inspire 1 fitted with a XT thermal camera. After 12 minutes of searching a heat source was located in a ditch, approximately 500 feet from the location of the overturned vehicle.
Officers on the ground were guided in to the heat source over the police radio, where an unconscious male suffering from early stage of Hyperthermia was located. Immediate medical attention was provided to the unconscious male who was taken to hospital and later made a full recovery.
Could you outline what your day-to-day role typically involves?
I am a special sergeant within the Lincolnshire Police Force Special Constabulary, which is a volunteer role. Specials work alongside regular full-time police officers, assisting in day to day police duties. Special constables have the same powers of arrest, carry the same equipment, and help to deliver an increase in officer availability at busy periods, such as weekends or during public events.
What attracted you the working with UAV?
I have a background in aviation from my teenage years as an air cadet. On leaving education I joined the Royal Airforce, and after leaving the RAF I gained my Private Pilots Licence on fixed wing and rotary aircraft, so flying has always been a passion of mine.
What was the process of entering the policing sector as a drone operator like?
In March 2017, sergeant Ed Delderfield of Lincolnshire Police embarked upon the project to deliver operational UAV’s for the Lincolnshire Police Force. Following an evaluation period the DJI Inspire 1 was chosen as this offered both a daylight zoom camera as well as the XT Thermal imaging camera, which is crucial for a large number of Police drone deployments. Three police officers were initially trained, alongside the comprehensive task of writing the Operations Manual in-order to gain PfCO approvals for the force. Approvals were obtained from the CAA in September 2017.
What are the main challenges you encounter in your line of work?
Lincolnshire is a very rural county and like all forces has the main stream criminality that all forces typically experience. Additionally, due to its large geographical area the Lincolnshire Police Force faces several unique challenges. Technology is paramount to providing policing to the community and UAVs have assisted in addressing the challenges and delivering a service to the wider community within the force.
Where do you see police work and drones in five years?
Without doubt the development in UAV technology has assisted many forces, looking forward with increased endurance, greater durability in weather, and the continued improvements in optics, the role of UAVs within mainstream policing will continue to develop.
Uses for drones within Lincolnshire Police are vast and varied but include:
- Crime Scene Imagery
- Searching for missing persons in both coastal and rural areas
- Event crowd dynamics such as football matches and large public gatherings
- Road Traffic Collison Investigation Imagery