The Swiss rescue dog service Redog has partnered up with the Swiss Federation of Civil Drones to improve the efficiency of search operations to find missing persons on difficult terrain.
The drones will be equipped with night vision and thermal cameras to spot people in distress. The dog handlers and dogs will then be directed to the spot to rescue those in need.
“We have already tested the dog-drone combination during our last three operations and we are now ready,” Romaine Kuonen, president of Redog, told swissinfo.ch.
According to Kuonen, Redog is involved in around 20 search and rescue operations every year. The drones will cover a lot of terrain while the dogs will be indispensable in forests where tree cover blocks aerial views, she says.
Both organisations will adapt their training to accommodate this new type of teamwork. So far, only five drone pilots have the necessary training to participate in the rescue operations. The partnership is a voluntary initiative with no additional commercial benefits to either organisation.
It is estimated that around 3,000 people go missing in Switzerland every year. Many of them suffer from dementia or are hikers who suddenly encounter health issues. Some 20,000 hikers per year have an accident, according to the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention.