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Proposed ASTM International Standards to Support Drone Use in Search and Rescue


Three proposed ASTM International standards will support the use of drones in search and rescue operations. Currently under development by ASTM International’s committee on search and rescue (F32), the standards will help classify search and rescue drones, cover operator training, and address drone operations.

Emergency response groups increasingly have added drones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), to their toolkits since drones have a number of practical applications for first responders, including:
•    the ability to help find missing people, such as a wandering child or lost hiker,
•    drop much needed supplies like floatation devices, blankets, food, and first aid supplies,
•    shine lights in dark, hard to navigate spaces, and
•    provide visual assistance through the use of cameras.

Drones can reach people in distress before in-person help can arrive, so it is important to note that “most of the search and rescue operations in the U.S. are done by volunteers who often don’t have access to money for drone training classes.” That’s according to Lee Lang, a park ranger and a National Association for Search And Rescue instructor who leads the ASTM International group working on the standards in this area. “Standards can enhance the professionalism and response time of search and rescue responders,” he says.

Currently, according to Chris Boyer, executive director and chief operations officer for the National Association For Search And Rescue, there are no published standards for the use of drones in search and rescue operations. “We are particularly interested in the training of the operator,” he says. Boyer adds that the committee would benefit from anyone able to share reports about using drones in search and rescue.

For more information about ASTM International activities for drones and other unmanned vehicles, read the Standardization News article, “Remote Control.”

All interested parties are invited to join in standards developing activities of the search and rescue committee. Become a member at

For more news in this sector, visit

ASTM Committee F32 on Search and Rescue Next Meeting: Nov. 8-9, 2015, in conjunction with the International Tech Rescue Symposium, Portland, Ore.
Media Inquiries: Dan Bergels, tel +1.610.832.9602;
Technical Contact: A. Lee Lang, Madera, Calif., tel +1.307.399.1345;
ASTM Staff Contact: Thomas O’Toole, tel +1.610.832.9739;


Release #10348

June 19, 2017

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