Luis Fieldman

DEERFIELD, Mass. – A drone-mounted thermal camera helped rescuers find a kayaker lost adrift on the Deerfield River on Tuesday night.

Police received a 911 call from a man who said he lost voice contact with another kayaker on the river and floated downstream, unable to get out. The lost kayaker was a man in his 30s, according to Deerfield Fire Chief Darren Melnik.

Melnik quickly requested a drone unit from the nearby Greenfield Fire Department to help locate the lost kayaker, according to a Greenfield Fire Department Facebook Post.

“Within two minutes of launching our drone with a thermal camera, we were able to locate what appeared to be an empty kayak,” the Greenfield Fire Department wrote. Members of the Deerfield Fire Department found the kayak empty and began their search for the lost kayaker along the shore.

It took only a few more minutes for the drone’s thermal camera to find the person who had headed for the bank further up the river. With the aid of app called what3wordswho shares GPS coordinates, Deerfield firefighters were directed to the kayaker’s location ashore.

“They were able to establish voice contact within minutes with the lost kayaker and determined he was injured,” the post read.

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IamResponding, what3words partner to improve emergency communications

The integration is designed to give first responders a “user-friendly way to identify and communicate precise locations in the event of an emergency”

With the help of the South County EMS, firefighters were able to use a small inflatable boat to rescue the kayaker.

“Due to shallow water, the boat was manually pushed up and down by firefighters to rescue the kayaker,” the post read. The kayaker was later taken to hospital with minor injuries.


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