How Emergency services rescue cliff-fall 'casualty'


Emergency services from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and Nottinghamshire Police put their lifesaving skills and teamwork to the test by rescuing a cliff-fall ‘casualty’ as part of a training exercise.  

The scenario involved a report of an injured person in distress after falling 30 metres down a cliff face in dense woodland in Bramcote.

A Nottinghamshire Police drone was utilised to help find them almost immediately using detailed footage filmed from the skies and streamed to the ground to pinpoint the exact location for firefighters to abseil down the steep cliff in the Hemlock Stone area to make the rope rescue.

In a real-life incident the drone would also be able to use thermal imaging to find heat sources on the ground to ensure the emergency services are given valuable extra time to find the casualty and give them lifesaving treatment.

Video released by police demonstrates the importance of state-of-the-art technology being used from the ground and the air to relay information to colleagues to help find the victim quickly and safely.

Using its enhanced capabilities the force’s newest drone was able to stream the footage live to incident commanders on the ground and back into control rooms.

Both emergency services have worked together using the drone on more than 1,100 incidents across Nottinghamshire over the last 18-months, including finding missing people, as well as being the eye from the skies for fire investigations.

Chief pilot PC Vince Saunders, of Nottinghamshire Police’s drone team, said: “It's so important that all blue light services work together and this exercise is a great example of how the force drone can be used to assist the Fire Service.

"Our drone capability has many uses – from crowd control to monitoring and assisting with arresting suspects. However, where they really excel is in finding missing people quickly and efficiently.

"In this latest training exercise we were able to help the fire service on the ground who were faced with the scenario to locate a casualty in harsh terrain.

"The woodlands in this particular incident were quite vast and with big drops so not easily accessible, so therefore an aerial search was really their only option given the time constraints and the serious nature of the incident. Without a drone this would be tricky and time consuming, by having that birds-eye-view it speeds up finding the casualty, but also gives information how to access the causality quicker.

"The drone continues to be a valuable tool for search and rescue, working particularly well with rope rescue teams where you can give coordinates to a specific location to find someone efficiently.

"After further testing the drone is fully operational and can be utilised at rope rescue incidents in the future like these. We will continue to work with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service to help the general public when they need us during these types of serious incidents."

Crews successfully used all equipment and techniques available to complete a number of complex rescue scenarios from the cliff-top, at heights of up to 30 metres. Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service watch manager Steve Daykin said: “The major benefit of having both technical rescue stations working closely together at this scenario was the ability to support our colleagues most effectively.

"This exercise allowed us to work together to get the casualty to be treated to the on the face of a cliff to provide immediate critical care.

"Multi-agency training exercises like these are an excellent example of the potential collaboration, within our service and with our emergency service colleagues. I’m really pleased with the outcome of this training exercise and I am confident we will work together effectively in future joint responses.”

Nottinghamshire Police’s drones team was established in January 2020 and is based at police headquarters in Arnold. It now has 17 pilots – officers trained to fly in addition to their other duties – and four drones, two main units and two smaller consumer style support units.

They are on alert 24/7 to deploy to anywhere in the county at a moment’s notice, and is also on hand to assist colleagues from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service – giving them potentially life-saving temperature information of building fires.

The DJI Matrice 300, the new main drone used by the force, brings considerable improvements in battery life, durability, speed and range and has a thermally equipped radiometric camera capable of a eight times zoom – allowing pilots to get highly detailed images and information from heat sources.

It was used last month to help save a vulnerable missing woman who had collapsed unconscious in a field at night close to Bassetlaw Showground.

Other recent successes for the Nottinghamshire team include the arrest of a suspect wanted on suspicion of shooting sheep with a cross bow and the seizure of several illegal off-road bikes as part of a wider police operation.

The relationship between the two organisations continue to grow with similar collaborations between the police force and fire service at West Bridgford, Highfields and London Road fire stations, meanwhile staff and officers will be working in a joint headquarters in Arnold from January 2022.


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