Drone Operation Helps Expedite the Evacuation of an Injured Women from a Sailboat in Bay Pines, Florida


Drone Operation Helps Expedite the Evacuation of an Injured Women from a Sailboat in Bay Pines, Florida

At approximately 8:15 AM on Thursday, March 16, 2017, a call was received by the Pinellas County Regional 911 Communication Center.  This call prompted crews to be dispatched from Madeira Beach Fire Department, Pinellas Suncoast Fire Rescue, Seminole Fire Rescue, Sunstar Paramedics, Florida Fish and Wildlife, and Eckerd College Search and Rescue.

The closest marine unit, Marine 27, responded from Pinellas Suncoast Fire Rescue on Indian Rocks Beach.  Due to other on-going search and rescue operations, vessels were not available from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife, and US Coast Guard.


The person requesting medical assistance was on a sailboat in the waters near the Bay Pines boat ramp located in the War Veteran’s Park at 9300 Bay Pines Blvd in unincorporated St. Petersburg, Florida.

Multiple sailboats matching the description of the target vessel were anchored in the waters surrounding War Veteran’s Park.  A small unmanned aerial vehicle (sUAV) operated by IONTB was on-scene and launched to help locate the target vessel.

The boat and the victim, were located by viewing real-time footage transmitted from the DJI Phantom 3 Pro.  The victim was seen waving at rescuers while wrapped in a blanket due to the breezy and cool weather conditions.  The sUAV continued to hover next to the boat assisting the Marine 27 crew to quickly locate and begin rendering aid to the victim.

The rescuers were able to transfer the victim to their boat and bring her safely back to the boat ramp for medical evaluation. She was ultimately transported by Sunstar Paramedics to a local hospital for further medical evaluation.

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The sUAV was operated by Steven Hirschfield who holds a Remote Pilot’s License issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  The operation was conducted in conjunction with the scene incident commander.



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