HomeOutdoorsNewsStranded Florida Hiker Rescued Thanks to Aerial Drone

Stranded Florida Hiker Rescued Thanks to Aerial Drone

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Mailfor via Getty Images)

Outdoor exploration has always been a popular pastime. Over time, however, adventurers have become more and more daring, hikers and climbers on a never-ending hunt for the next great challenge. This means a spike in thru-hiking thousand-mile trails, climbers attempting death-defying routes, and an ever-deeper exploration of the world’s wildest spaces.

Spending time outdoors is never a bad thing. However, the increase in bold attempts to conquer the wilderness has resulted in an increase in not only rescue missions as a whole but the difficulty of each individual quest. First responders are frequently tasked with dangerous missions on unpredictable terrain, putting themselves at risk in the service of others.

As technology improves, however, so does rescue mission safety and efficiency. Rescue crews have more tools at their disposal than ever before, allowing them to locate and retrieve stranded hikers with relative ease.

Among the most valuable of these tools is the drone, which gives rescue crews the advantage of an aerial view of the area. Though helicopters were already an option, drones are far less expensive to operate and exponentially more agile. Due to their size, helicopters can only fly and land in certain places. Meanwhile, drones can reach just about anywhere.

Rescue Crew Uses Drone to Save Distressed Hiker

During a recent rescue mission, Polk County Fire Rescue put their drone to the test in the rescue of a distressed hiker. On Friday afternoon (November 25), a hiker was traveling through the Tiger Creek Preserve when they lost their way. With only a few hours before sunset, they began to panic, the 5000-acre outdoor space becoming an inescapable maze.

Without wasting a moment, PCFR began preparations for the rescue mission. Knowing the preserve was vast and untamed, they packed their aerial drone among their equipment.

Upon arriving at Tiger Creek, fire rescue officials launched the drone and began their search, knowing only that the hiker was stranded on a rural walking trail. And without sending a single man into the field beforehand, rescuers located the hiker. First responders quickly followed behind, arriving at the drone’s location to deliver aid to the frightened outdoorsman.

“From an aerial view through specialized cameras, the drone was able to see what crews on the ground could not, allowing PCFR to successfully locate the individual and render aid,” Polk County Fire Rescue said in a statement.

“Polk’s current drone program began in 2019 and currently conducts various missions for search and rescue, HAZMAT team deployment, major disaster scenes, and storm damage asses. Our drone program is essential to the commitment of the department’s 21st Century all-hazards preparedness,” added Fire Chief, Dr. Hezedean Smith.

In addition to their invaluable use in search and rescue missions, fire crews can also use drones in damage assessment, surveillance, emergency deliveries, and fire detection.