After spending almost two weeks lost in the Siberian forests and swamplands, four-year-old Karina is finally going home–and it is all thanks to a drone.
On July 29th, Karina went missing from the Yakutia Republic in Russia; however, due lack of communication between the child’s parents, authorities were only notified of her disappearance on August 3rd.
In order to cover 30 kilometers of dense forest and swampland, authorities exhausted their manpower and all technologies available to find the missing girl. Search parties, sniffer dogs, helicopters, specialists, and drones made up the team of rescuers looking for Katrina.
After surveying the vast area, an unmanned aerial vehicle spotted Katrina sitting in tall grass and was able to direct rescuers to her location. Katrina was immediately taken to the hospital where she remains in stable condition.
Katrina’s story, though daunting, is not entirely unique.
In, fact drones are used in search and rescue efforts worldwide.
While traditional search methods like on-foot parties and helicopters are still being used, drones have proven more effective in cases like Katrina’s, as well as that of Guillermo DeVenecia, an 82-year-old Virginia resident who went missing in July.
Police, dogs, and several volunteers spent three days covering the area around DeVenecia’s expected location to no avail. After only about 20 minutes, amateur drone operator, David Lesh, was able to locate DeVenecia, covering more ground in minutes than searchers could in hours.
Despite being deprived of food, water, and shelter, DeVenecia was rescued by Lesh and his family in fairly good condition.
The use of consumer drones is controversial and has received backlash from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the past, who sought to put limits on the use of drones for commercial purposes. In April, the FAA attempted to effectively ban drone use for search and rescue ops by sending a cease and desist (of sorts) to Texas-based EquuSearch, a non-profit that employs drones for search and rescue operations.
EquuSearch recently received a ruling in their favor and resumed the use of drones, which then joined the search for a 57-year old man who had been missing in Livingston, TX.
While commercial drone use remains in a controversial state of limbo with lawmakers, instances like these -where deploying a drone could be the difference between life and death for a lost child- make the quibbles of politicians seem trivial.