Woman found – Photo: KFRS

Specialist firefighters used infrared drone technology to successfully locate and rescue a missing woman, who laid injured in woodland near Faversham for more than eight hours. 

Drone technology led to the rescue after she broke her leg walking alone in woodland. 

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) was called to assist Kent Police with the search shortly after midnight on Sunday (14 May) in Faversham, where the lady was believed to be, following a phone call she had made earlier that day, before running out of battery. 

KFRS sent a technical rescue unit, including two drone pilots, to the search area in woodland near Colonels Lane. Two new, state-of-the-art drones with infrared technology, were used simultaneously to search two areas.

After around two hours of scouring woodland from above in the darkness, KFRS drone pilot and firefighter, Ali Gilfillan, located the woman.

The rest of crew rushed to her aid and assessed her condition, created a makeshift splint to support her broken leg, and carried her on a stretcher for around 300 meters through woodland to the road. She was then handed into the care of South East Coast Ambulance Service.   

Firefighter Ali said: “You can’t describe the feeling of finding a missing person, and in those situations it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. But this is what we are trained for – our skills combined with modern technology, and effective joined up working between blue light services, we really can achieve some amazing outcomes. We’re so pleased to have found the lady, and we hope she has a speedy recovery.”

KFRS Technical Rescue Supervisor Jim Chaston said: “The drones are fantastic pieces of kit that we use quite often these days – whether that’s helping to locate missing people, or flying over fires to get a better view and understanding of fire spread, search for hot spots, assess damage and structural stability, and provide evidence for fire investigation. 

“Technology within the fire service has come such a long way, and we’ll continue evolve and adapt to make sure we’ll always be able to help people when they need us most.”

By Ed

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