A forest fire is a vicious phenomenon. Fanned by constant winds, and with no substantial barrier apart from trees that fuel it further, a forest fire can spread far, quick and have devastating consequences.
The lush Kolukkumalai forest area in Tamil Nadu has been witness to a forest fire, which has claimed several lives.
Rescue teams involving forest and fire department personnel and police officers, along with the locals, were desperately trying to reach those stuck, and this is when scientists from the Madras Institute of Technology stepped up to the occasion and decided to aid in rescue operations.
At the request of the State DGP, the scientists deployed drones, to help guide rescuers. Three teams, led by Dr K Senthil Kumar, Associate Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering, MIT, reached Kolukkumalai in the wee hours of Monday and launched three types of drones.
According to the doctor, helicopters have already been deployed to trace missing people, so this exercise was to aid the rescue teams. The wind direction and intensity kept fluctuating, and the safety of the rescuers was paramount. Aerial surveillance provided the required support.
Some trekkers went missing in the forest, causing a moment of panic. However, all trekkers were located and identified, that too without the use of thermal cameras. The doctor who headed the team mentions that the drones are capable of covering a 5-km radius, reaching places which were difficult earlier. The drones were accurate in finding victims, including the ones who fell into a deep gorge while trying to flee.
Using drones in rescue operations is not new. Abroad, drones are put to a variety of uses, because they can penetrate regions aircraft and helicopters cannot. In this case, as well, the drones acted like the eyes and ears of the rescuers, thus increasing the efficiency of the rescue operation.