The Western Cape Government Health’s (WCGH’s) Emergency Medical Services (EMS) have become the first government institution in South Africa that will be allowed to fly drones legally. These drones will be used to help identify wildfires amid fire season and assist in rescue operations.
The Western Cape government explains that the drones, which form part of the EMS Drone Rescue Project, may fly over public spaces, roads, people and national key points with permission from landowners or its representatives. This will help firefighters identify and put out fires much faster.
The project rolled out on Tuesday [December 15], and allows registered drone pilots employed by the city’s EMS services to deploy in mountainous regions to assist search and rescue missions. Initially, the drones will monitor Table Mountain but the provincial government hope to expand to more rural areas in time.
While this will not replace current methods used, it will help give a quick assessment during an emergency.
“The drone is going to aid in getting quicker to the patient, finding them and making the whole rescue operation a lot sooner,” Fabian Higgins, EMS Flight Operations Manager told ENCA.
“Hopefully, because we [are] saving a lot of time dispatching people to look on the mountain… with the thermal imaging camera we can pick heat signatures and identify people on the mountain.”