École d’Application de Sécurité Civile (EcASC)
Air support in rescue missions
The Centre National de Formation Secours en Milieu Périlleux et Montagne (CNF SMPM) of the École d’Application de Sécurité Civile (EcASC) de Valabre is an establishment recognized by the French Ministry of the Interior – DGSCGC – to implement specialized training for the benefit of various Civil Security players.
This specialized center is fitted with specific equipment and implements special know-how such as wall relief, well rescue or helicopter maneuvers… Each year, the EcASC trains about 300 rescuers from the SDIS, military security units from the entire French territory. The EcASC is particularly in charge of training in dangerous environment.
In October 2017, the École d’Application de Sécurité Civile (EcASC) and Yuneec signed a partnership for the use of its professional drone H520. Since then, the drone has been tested, under real conditions, during the training sessions of the GRIMP (Groupe de Reconnaissance et d’Intervention en Milieu Périlleux – Group of recon and intervention in perilous environment) teams, offering them air support in their rescue missions, allowing, among other things, to locate the victims, establish contact with them, recon pathways for rescuers and thus help them more easily and more quickly.
The H520 drone, equipped with a retractable landing gear and integrated flight plan software, which can carry several interchangeable cameras (high definition, wide angle, thermal), was specially designed to meet the requirements of the agents of Civil Security in their relief missions in perilous environments and mountains. Thanks to the H520 drone, the rescue teams benefit from air support, which allows a very fast reconnaissance of an area, to simplify the identification of victims using its various cameras, as well as to drop equipment (ropes, radios) in places that are difficult to access.
Captain Guy Pourchot, one of the national advisers of the specialty and head of the CNF SMPM, declared: “Deploying a drone makes recon missions easier and allows to quickly have a vision that you do not have when you are on the ground, on a hiking trail or on a road. It is also possible to locate a victim, mark a GPS point, evaluate distances between him/her and the intervention teams in order to adopt the rescue techniques best suited to the situation. “
Since the implementation of this test phase, the returns have been extremely positive, especially in terms of response time. “During our training, in the course of the scenarios that we draw up, we observe an undeniable gain of time in the operational implementation”, says Captain Guy Pourchot. Finally, the interest is also financial since the acquisition of a drone is quickly depreciated if compared, for example, with the cost of another kind of air support, according to the scope and characteristics of the mission.
The possibility of routing equipment to allow and / or speed up the implementation of certain devices in very rugged areas is also a significant factor; the time savings resulting from all these parameters will undoubtedly have a positive financial impact on the overall cost of the mission.
Will the drone be the inevitable ally of rescue teams in the near future? According to Captain Guy Pourchot, the answer is “yes” even if “we are currently in the testing phase and have not yet taken full advantage of all the possibilities that the drone can bring us in the future”.