New pilot project using drones along Essex coast to help with search and rescue operations

29 April 2019, 16:24 | Updated: 29 April 2019, 16:26

Drone pilot

For the next year, there are going to be more eyes in the sky along the Essex coast with drones being used to help search and rescue efforts.

It's down to a new partnership between Essex Police, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

From today, the drones will help with missions including searching hard to reach places and directing crews to locations.

Paul Eathorn, from the MCA, told Heart "drones can reach those areas of interest, quickly and more eefectively than some of those bigger assets.

"We see them very much as complimenting our existing resources but certainly not replacing them.

"Our existing helicopter fleet really have fantastic all weather rescue capability. It's very hard to imagine a drone placing that in the short term. Longer term? Who knows. The capability would have to increase dramatically... and also give us the option of winching before we can consider replacing helicopters... That said we do believe they can offer a great deal in terms of locating a casualty and the location of the search is the important part of search and rescue."

He says if the project is successful, it will hopefully continue into the future.