Herts Rescue Service Plans to use Drones instead of Helicopter

Hertfordshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service have signed an agreement to jointly use a fire service drone to assist at major incidents and during searches for high-risk vulnerable #missing people.

The proposed replacement drone will be able to fly in all weathers and stay airborne for longer. It has a one hour flight time, a 50mph top speed and can be deployed in 30 seconds.

The drone was successfully used to find a missing high-risk and vulnerable 20-year-old man, who went missing at 2am wearing just shorts and boots. He was located by the drone metres away from a train track in Hemel Hempstead, suffering from hypothermia, very cold and in need of an ambulance.

The new UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) can cover a distance seven times quicker than officers on foot. It can also be used in conditions where it is unsafe for helicopters or crews to go.

Using the drone will be cheaper and quicker than calling in the National Police Air Service helicopter.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd and Hertfordshire County Council Leader David Williams met at the Joint Emergency Services Academy in Longfield, Stevenage, on Friday, 24 January 2020 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the use of the drone.

The drone will continue to be piloted by firefighters based at Potters Bar fire station, who already use it to help provide additional information about an incident to senior commanders.
Chief Fire Officer at Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Darryl Keen, said: “The fire service uses a drone to give Incident Commanders an overview of the scene they are attending. Having an aerial view of a fire scene can help us gauge the size of the emergency, whether we need more firefighters to support our response, as well as what tactics we should use to tackle the incident.”

Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, said: “This agreement marks another step the close collaboration between Police and Fire and Rescue Services, which will deliver benefits for residents now and for years to come.

“The successful drone operation to find the missing man last night, is the perfect example of how time, resources and ultimately lives can be saved with this new shared technology.”

There are now plans for the police and fire service to jointly fund a new, state-of-the-art drone.

Leader of Hertfordshire County Council, David Williams, said: “This new agreement demonstrates yet another way that our fire service and the police are working together more closely. The fire and rescue service has successfully used a drone in its response to incidents for some time, and we are happy to see that firefighters will be using their training to help colleagues in the police find high-risk missing people in the county.”

Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: “This is a very welcome initiative which has great potential to help us in our work in Hertfordshire, especially in our searches for high risk vulnerable missing people.”

Inspector James Lacey, who has led the project for the police, added: “This is a very useful resource to be able to use when there is a threat to life. We have seen the benefits of it already and the new drone will increase our capacity to help.”

Another agreement from the HESC Board was signed at the end of last year to set out procedures for closer working and sharing of resources when looking for high risk missing people.

This includes using HFRS specialist equipment such as thermal imaging cameras, drones, high level platforms, boats and the Service’s command vehicles.

Both the county council and PCC are exploring opportunities for further collaboration including better use of estates, such as co-locating police and fire headquarters, a joint training base and a better response structure in cases where both services are needed.