Balearic emergency services have a new recruit for their efforts in dealing with fires and other needs. A drone of 80 by 45 centimetres will be functional in the next couple of weeks and be operated by an aviation company based at the Son Bonet aerodrome. The drone, which can take photographs and video and thermographic images, has a flying-time range of up to 45 minutes, and the emergency services see its potential for marine rescue and for forest fires. At present, only the emergency services are acquiring a drone, though it may be something which other services adopt.

The chief of the emergencies department, Antoni Bernad, notes that drones have been pressed into service in other regions of the country. He adds that they can be useful in ensuring the safety of personnel in certain situations as well as in identifying the main focus of fires and in highlighting centres of any marine pollution. Above all, they can assist in speeding up response times.

A pilot scheme has been developed for using the drone, which needs to have specific characteristics suited to tasks. It will be capable to recording images in high definition and in real time and will offer a function like that which was developed by the emergency services helicopter between 2007 and 2012.

There have been bureaucratic delays with acquiring the drone, principally those of cost - some 10,000 euros. In addition, the drone cannot be fully used until its technical characteristics are documented.

In Playa de Muro there have been tests with drones in the past couple of years. These have been for the marine rescue service. At a meeting last week the use of drones was discussed as a first line means of helping swimmers in difficulties.