Historical action of TOPR – two men were saved by rescuers using drones

TOPR rescuers used drones during search action and found missing persons in the area of Dolina Pięciu Stawów Polskich

An unprecedented search and rescue operation in the Tatra Mountains at the end of October ended with a success. TOPR rescuers found two persons who got lost after dark in the Dolina Pięciu Stawów.

The story began with the information about two men who did not return to the shelter in Dolina Pięciu Stawów Polskich before dark. TOPR rescuers contacted the missing men who informed that due to lack of light and an icy trail at night they were not able to go further. At the same time they were not able to say where exactly they were.

Two men who strayed from a trail in the Tatra Mountains were found by drones

The ground rescue team rushed to help and began checking the nearby trails. A crew of drone operators assisted them by launching two drones to locate the missing persons. Aerial search was supported by the use of a thermal imaging camera in the drone which allowed to quickly locate the missing people and to report their location to the ground team which helped the survivors – says Marcin Józefowicz from TOPR.

When they arrived it turned out that the two men found at Siklawa did not have any equipment to continue their journey. They were safely returned to the shelter in Dolina Pięciu Stawów by TOPR rescuers.

First ever such rescue operation

It is the first rescue operation in the history of Tatrzańskie Ochotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe (TOPR) in which drones were used. Although rescuers have been testing the capabilities of drones for some time – they were used, among others, in the evaluation of a rockfall in the area of Mięguszowiecki Szczyt – it was only in the night from Wednesday to Thursday that they were able to join the rescue action. Thanks to the capabilities of advanced technology the operation was successfully completed.

Drones became part of the TOPR equipment a few months ago. They were tested in the Tatra Mountains both in summer and winter. TOPR has even tested them at the height of Rysy, Świnica, Ciemniak or the Przełęcz pod Chłopkiem. The drones that have been delivered to TOPR are equipped with hybrid cameras, i.e. a combination of an ordinary camera and a thermal imaging camera. The second one in particular proved to be useful in this case in search for missing persons in the Tatra Mountains after dark. The rescuers’ drones are equipped with a searchlight and a drop system, so that the drone can be used to transport smaller items for people in need who are waiting for rescuers to arrive. Such a package can weigh about 2 kg. It can be a thermal foil, a bottle of water or, for example, a walkie-talkie, which will make it easier to communicate with the found person. Moreover, the drone has been equipped with a loudspeaker so that the rescuers will be able to transmit messages to e.g. tourists who made a wrong route and direct them to the right path.

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We are glad that the drones delivered by us effectively support the actions performed by Tatra rescuers.

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