Douglas County Search and Rescue team uses UAS to locate and rescue missing hikers

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On June 15, the Douglas County Search and Rescue team in Colorado used a UAS to locate two missing hikers and a dog in the Pike National Forest, after they mistakenly left the Devil's Head trail.

The hikers were able to call 9-1-1 with limited cell service, and the Douglas County Search and Rescue volunteer teams responded to the area. More than two dozen people responded, which included foot searchers, ATVs, a K-9 team, and the UAS team.

About two hours after the teams responded to the area, the UAS team made visual contact with the lost hikers, and shortly after that, a search team on foot made contact with the hikers.

According to Incident Commander Bruce Fosdick, the UAS saved hours of time in searching for the hikers.

“Instead of an all-night search we were done in about 4 hours,” Fosdick says via Fox 31 Denver.

Fosdick, a member of the search and rescue team since 1966, says that technology has come a long way since he became a member of the team, which has made a monumental difference in how search and rescue operations are conducted nowadays.

“50 years ago basically everything was done by a group lined up in a straight line and just plodding through a field,” he says.

“Now, scientifically we try to plot out a lot more where the subject is. We use a lot of different assets. Dogs, drones, helicopters. We try to do a lot more with a lot less people and try to get it done a lot quicker.”

Roman Bukary, a member of the Douglas County Search and Rescue team, agrees with Fosdick in regards to the impact of this technology, and Bukary says that thanks to the technology, the June 15 operation went very smooth.

“Everybody knew exactly where we were going what we were seeing who we had to deal with and how many we had to deal with and that made my life much easier,” Bukary says through CBS Denver.

Made up entirely of volunteers, the Douglas County Search and Rescue team is funded mainly through donations, which allows it to conduct its missions free of charge.