Nova Scotia

Volunteer fire department uses drone to rescue man lost in woods

A 78-year-old man from Malagash is back home safe after getting lost in the woods Wednesday night. The fire department was able to use its new drone — only in service for nine weeks — to find him.

Drone has only been in service for 9 weeks, thrift shop raised money to buy it

A man holds a drone while standing next to a fire truck.
Deputy Chief Mike Jamieson of the Wallace Volunteer Fire Department holds the drone — a DJI Matrice — that they used to help find a 78-year-old man who was missing in the woods. (Tom Flynn/Wallace Volunteer Fire Department)

The Wallace Volunteer Fire Department has only had a drone for nine weeks and it has already helped rescue a 78-year-old man who was missing in the woods.

According to a news release from the fire department, the RCMP requested help in the search on Wednesday night. The man hadn't been heard from for several hours by that point.

Within 30 minutes of using the drone, the fire department said he was found in deep woods, about 1.6 kilometres from his home in Central Malagash, N.S.

"If we hadn't had the drone, I would say by the terrain he was located in, we would have had a very difficult time locating him," Chief Tom Flynn said. "And we probably wouldn't have located him [last night]. He would have spent the night there in the woods and he would have been cold."

'Paid for itself on its first run'

The fire department said it took another hour using its all-terrain rescue vehicle and a family ATV to bring the man home to his family — and a hot shower.

The department received the drone, a DJI Matrice, from the Fire Place Thrift Shop. The store raises money for fire-department equipment. It had also raised money for the all-terrain rescue vehicle used in the search.

"They've been doing that for a number of years with different items. We have a rescue boat through them, quite a few different things we probably wouldn't be able to get through our normal funding," Flynn said. "So this was a good buy. It paid for itself on its first run."

The department acquired the rescue boat in 2019, noting that it was used within two months to rescue two five-year-old girls in the Northumberland Strait.


Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.