National Emergency Remote Pilot Service
NERPS - Incorporating the Special Drone Service (SDS)
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5th of August, 2019

Scafell Pike: Body of missing Whitehaven climber found

On the 4th of June, 2019, the BBC reported the police saying that the body of a climber had been found on England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike.

Chris Brown, 35, of Whitehaven, Cumbria, had been reported missing shortly before 22:00 BST and a search operation was launched.

Nothing had been heard from him since he tweeted a picture from the summit of Scafell Pike, which is 978m (3,208ft) high.

His body was found on the following Tuesday morning at Chambers Crag. Police said his death was not believed to be suspicious.

Source: BBC

Chris Brown's Family Seeking Help

Including consultation with LDSAMRA (Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association)

On the 22nd of June, 2019, Tony Brown, the late Chris Brown's brother, sought the help of our founding director, Count Anthony Harrison. Mr Brown had merely seen some of Count Harrison's drone photographs and comments in a Whitehaven Facebook Group, and thought that he would be a good resource to question.

Coincidentally, Count Harrison, the head of the ancient Harrison's of west Cumberland, that family after whom Harrison's Stickle, the centre peak in the Lake District, is named, heir of that famous Whitehaven benefactress, the Baroness de Sternberg, as well as being heir of that famous forerunner to the founding of the National Trust, Countess Mary Ossalinsky, of Armboth on Thirlmere, had recently returned home to Cumberland, and had already started to draw up a 'Special Drone Service' emergency service that was similar to the structures he had known when he was in the Special Air Service Group.

He had been in a unit that was then attached as a corp asset to the Allied Rapid Reaction Force, who in doing so had followed in the footsteps of his father, who had also been in the S.A.S., however being involved in aerial reconaissance, Count Harrison was also following in the footsteps of his grandfather who was a decorated WW1 reconnaissance pilot who had also administered the Polish pilots in the Battle of Britain.

The model he was seeking was one that would allow Remote Pilots as First Responders to use advanced drone technology to identify the location of lost people so that the information of their location and condition could be relayed via the Police to the most appropriate rescue facility.

  1. His imperative was that all three of "location, proof of life, and condition" should be determined prior to the decision about which emergency rescue service was most appropriate to do the rescue.
  2. His premise was that an independant but specialist Special Drone Service would be more effective and save more lives than non-specialists trying to integrate adhoc equipments and rudimentary procedures into existing "Other Specialty Organisations" (OSO), such as Mountain Rescue Teams who were specialists in their own specific area but who were not leading-edge specialists in the area of the 'other' - in this case, primary-mission specialist drone operations.
  3. And his apology was in the contrasting of (in this case) 'advanced drone specialists using the most efficient means of locating proof of life', versus 'rope and recover specialists', exemplifying that the art of OSO is more about separating roles into separate units so that best practices actually lead to saving more lives.

Count Harrison's model was that a single Special Drone Unit of a larger specialist Special Drone Service emergency service would consist of four personnel, having adopted the S.A.S. pattern of his experience, and that team would be available to rapidly deploy to undertake special reconnaissance missions 'in search of human life'.

Broadly, each Special Drone Unit would have two specialist Remote Pilots, as well as an Operations Officer, and a Driver/Communications Officer, and be equipped with 2 specialist drones, electronic map table, recharging facilities, and Ultra High Frequency communications equipment. Such a unit would even potentially have the capacity to keep 'eyes-on' a particular subject for a protracted 24 hour period, if need be, merely by rotating craft and pilots as batteries became depleted!

Special Drone Units would be arranged such that a 'flight' of these units would consist of 4 units plus a corresponding Command and Control vehicle. Flights would make squadrons, squadrons would make wings, wings would make groups, groups would make an "air force", and lo, the Special Drone Service, utilising a military special forces model, would have a rank structure that was the same as the Royal Air Force, and would hence be familiar to Joint Force Liason Officers!

Wanting to raise money in his brother's memory, Tony Brown's questions of Count Harrison weren't unusual:

  1. Can you get Drones with night vision or heat source camera?
  2. What are the good brands to look out for?
  3. What kind of money will I need to raise?
  4. Are there restrictions up in the mountains?

Count Harrison made some preliminary market-entry recommendations, and this led to an hour and a half meeting on the 26th of July at Energis between he, Tony Brown, Chris Brown's widow, Sam, and Chris Brown's mother, Mrs Brown. They departed with the agreement that Count Harrison would prepare a document of recommendations, including specifications, but include any additional material that the family wanted, to cater for the matter that as a historical document, that it could be published; the curious thing is that Count Harrison's drone specification is vastly different to the specification that was proposed to Count Harrison by the LDSAMRA, who are not yet so experienced in these matters.

Part of Count Harrison's specification has been very succesfully used in service by the Manchester Police Department, and the layer on top would be that which would have been needed so that Scafell Pike could have been able to be searched in the early hours of the morning of the 5th of June, had the equipment been available on that night. The matter that Chris Brown's body was reported to have been found 7 days after having been reported missing shows how important it is to reacting to the 'finding proof of life' window: if a drone is going to use Infrared technology to find a body, it must be warm, and if it is going to be warm it is essential, where possible, that a drone is launched into a search and rescue pattern in the near hours after the person was reported missing. In Chris Brown's case, the report came in shortly before 2200, so it would have been desirable that a drone was launched to look for him by around 2300 or not much later. And this means that the drone would have had to have night vision equipment. Thank you to officers of the Manchester Police Department for recommending that!

Count Harrison's meeting with the Browns was of course a very sensitive issue, and yet despite having anticipated just meeting for half an hour, the meeting lasted an hour and a half, and outside on the apron afterwards, Chris Brown's mother, Mrs Brown, continued to linger in conversation with Count Harrison about various delicate subjects and prospective opportunities.

For example, Count Harrison had been pondering the issue of whether the family would want a charity, or division of a charity, named after their lost son, did they want to broaden the scope of their fund-raising, did they realise that the effective use of drones revolved around specialist operators who were experienced in specific but specialist Operational Safety Cases (OSC) that afforded the Remote Pilots exemptions within limits, in certain circumstances?

In short, the Brown's were beginning to realise that this fund-raising issue was much larger than merely raising money for equipment!

Count Harrison then approached Tony Brown for permission to approach Richard Warren for advice about both equipment and training, which was easily granted.

He had observed Mr Warren's close association with the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), however as serendipity would have it, Mr Warren was actually the MRT director who prevailed as chair over 12 Mountain Rescue Teams!

Count Harrison's very long conversation with Mr Warren was very fruitful indeed, and both glimpsed of the other both expertise and dedication.

The Mountain Rescue Teams were, however, in a predicament, firstly in the matter of how they are structured for drone operations, and secondly, they already had a prospective donor that would fully equip the MRTs under Mr Warren's chair, to such a full extent that Mr Warren recommended that I sought the Brown family's interest in donating some climbing equipment instead.

Tony Brown's response to Count Harrison about the funding issue was as would be expected:

"As soon as I got the news about Chris it was my mission to get a drone In honor for him to help saves lives and help lost people so I don't really want to b[u]y the little things like rope, shoes, helmets etc if you know where iam coming from. Plus I have told people what the money is going towards so people have been putting donations down."

Count Harrison had already alerted Mr Warren to this likelihood, and resolving it was not one of redirecting the Brown's fund-raising, but instead kindly accepting it and redirecting the possible later surplus to another MRT where that donation would not be surplus.

Meanwhile, the other predicament remained, and that is the Mountain Rescue Team's incapacity to offer a best-in-class drone service themselves.

This, however, is not a criticism of the MRT under Mr Warren, but instead is a symptom of his being in a specialist organistion that is rapidly being subject to the changes of a converging but disparate specialty!

Count Harrison concluded his opinion that the circumstance of drone use in the MRTs under Richard Warren's chair essentially boil down to the following:

  1. Candidates could only join an MRT if they were MRT specialists first, and in all likelihood leading-edge drone specialists would not primarily be MRT specialists. This means that there is a higher likelihood of the best of the best drone operators never being accepted into an MRT so that they could then specialise as a drone operator.
  2. Prospective drone candidates were required to have their own PfCOs, and this immediately illustrates that the MRT do not understand how Permission to Fly Commercial Operations are affected. PfCO course graduates are typically attached to an existing Operations Manual and by requiring potential drone candidates to have their own commercial Operations Manual it was essentially guaranteed that candidates would not only have their own Ops Manual that was without the necessary leading-edge CAA authorised Operations Safety Cases (OSC) that the MRT would need to be most effective, it absolutely guaranteed that the Remote Pilots would not be in an upwardly mobile culture that had dedicated teams whose primary focus was to develop the most appropriate, leading-edge OSCs for their particular emergency service. Add to this the matter that if a Remote Pilot did identify an OSC that would be sufficient if added to his own Ops Manual, the matter that the Remote Pilot would have to pay the CAA to have this added to their Ops Manual very clearly illustrates that many are not just unlikely to do so, but the whole culture is negatively set up towards the likelihood that the practice of Remote Pilots operating in MRTs under their own Ops Manuals is more likely to result in fewer lives being saved, which is another way of saying that this practice will more likely lead to death.
  3. Mr Warren also had the understanding that MRT Remote Pilots could plug-in to the Cumbria Police Force's own Ops Manual however this is naive in the sense that Remote Pilots agree to be fully conversant with the Ops Manuals that they fly under, and yet Police Force Ops Manuals contain restricted material that Mountain Rescue Remote Pilots would not be able to see - hence they cannot legally engage with such Ops Manuals, hence are not actually in a position to "plug into a police force's Ops Manual". In rare occasions where there is an extreme emergency a Police Force can direct that a Remote Pilot operates outside his own Ops Manual but operating under this premise on the basis of it being an excuse for Ops Manuals not being properly managed is not just highly irresponsible, but would also show a prevailing attitude that would more likely result in fewer lives being saved. I don't believe, however, that Mr Warren is intentionally operating under this premise, and it has been wonderful that things such as this can begin to be ironed out.

There is of course a saying that 'As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another!', and this investigation has been very fruitful, so much so that Count Harrison realised that it was imperitive that his plans to create a National Emergency Remote Pilot Service were accellerated, and with great thanks to Chris Brown's family - and indeed to the Memory of Chris Brown - that this organisation is now set up, this "National Emergency Remote Pilot Service (NERPS)", which will incorporate a wider range of facets than touched on here.

Equally, very much grattitude is expressed towards Richard Warren, the chair of 12 MRTs in the Lake District, whose insights have been very helpful. Had this case been around fund-raising for a drone for a Fire Brigade, or an Ambulance Service, such would have instead been put under the spotlight, and perhaps with similar lessons.

One thing is for certain, and that is that there is very good reason why all the different emergency services are indeed separate services in the first place, and no matter which emergency service had been under the spotlight here, the result would in all likelihood have been the same - that a dedicated national emergency service needs to be set up to properly focuss upon it's needs into how this rapidly emerging technology can be best used to save lives.'

In closing, we should express one last sentiment about the Brown's, who are of course grieving the tragic loss of their son. One of the things that Count Harrison asked Mrs Brown, the dead man's mother, was the matter if she would like an organisation, or dedicated division of an organisation named after her son.

Although Mrs Brown said that it was too early to consider such a thing, a very wise man would say that the death of Chris Brown has focussed very much light upon how emergency services can best improve to properly utilise advanced drone technologie to save lives.

If the lesson that has been taught is that drone training needs to be improved, it would be nice to think that someday in the future that the Brown's grief might in some way be satisfied even in just some very small way, by Chris Brown's name being associated with a Remote Pilot Training Institute that is specifically dedicated to saving lives.

Indeed, Count Harrison has asked Tony Brown about the prospect of the NERPS NQE Training Facility, being in someway connected with Chris Brown's name. We have considered 'The Chris Brown Institute' as a prospect, however the appropriateness of this cannot even begin to be considered before the funds have been raised for this. We have, however, had a very kind offer of an existing NQE offering to set up the NERPS NQE Training Institute, as well as prepare all of the CAA applications for this, so the future is promising!

Meanwhile, we have requested from Richard Warren, the chair of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, our meeting the LDSAMRA SUA Officer, as well as copies of Mountain Rescue Incident Reports covering the last 20 years so that we can translate them to CAA Operational Safety Cases that we can communicate to interested PfCO Remote Pilots, country-wide.

Once we have the experience of specifying various search and rescue OSCs that we would have had peer-reviewed in the process, we shall get on with contacting other emergency services for similar reasons.

And so the "Pick-and-Mix OSC" is born!"

The Brown's Fund Raiser is on the 26th of October at the Energis Offices in West Cumberland and interested parties may contact Mr Tony Brown via the Energis switchboard on 01900 605665.

The NERPS' Present Focus

We are presently in our founding administrative phase and are presently creating the following, as well as looking for various directorships to be filled:

NQE Training Institute

Taylor Made, Specific to Service

We aim to evolve specific Operational Safety Cases (OSC) that are specific to each Emergency Service!

We have approached LDSAMRA for 20 years of Mountain Rescue Incident Reports so that we can study these and consult with experts country-wide to convert them to CAA Operational Safety Cases that organisations can look at to add to their own Operation Manuals

Similarly, we plan to seek case studies from all of the other emergency services so that we can evolve OSCs right across the full Emergency Services spectrum so that OSCs are available on a 'pick-and-mix' basis for interested Remote Pilots!

PfCO Solutions

Multiplexed Operation Manuals

We aim to create Operation Manual templates that afford the capacity for an Emergency Service to bring their Remote Pilots in-house, to regional Plug-And-Play Ops Manuals that are tiered by emergency service type and are already operational that Pilots can merely 'plug into' to start operating.

Similarly, for Remote Pilots or new businesses seeking their own custom emergency service related PfCO solution, we plan to create suitable Operation Manual Templates that allow OSCs to be added on a pick-and-mix basis.

Special Operations

Special Drone Service

We aim to curate a special-forces structure where a flight consists of a Command and Control vehicle plus four dedicated Drone Unit 4x4s.

Each dedicated Drone Unit 4x4 would staff two Remote Pilots, one Operations Officer, one Driver/Radio Operator.

Each dedicated Drone Unit 4x4 would have two drones, media editing facilities, map table, recharging station, and radio communications facility.

As the Special Drone Service grows, flights will become squadrons, squadrons will become wings, wings will become groups, and groups will become a drone force.

Special Projects, such as exploring the capacity of deploying drone-equipped Remote Pilots into remote locations using accellerated freefall techniques!


Updated 7th of August 2019

Accelerated Freefall Drone Team Insertion

We are seeking Accelerated Freefall Course Graduates who are interested in exploring the possibility of 4 man drone teams being inserted into remote areas to undertake search and rescue drone patterns, using both IR and nightvision.

Candidates will be very experienced in HAHO, have their own equipment and funds, essentially being 'like-minded partners' who are excited about being on the leading edge of their sport and in this case excited about the possibility of being inserted with drones and equipment, into remote locations in search of human life.

NERPS - Incorporating the Special Drone Service (SDS)